Quotes of the day

President Obama’s recent overhaul of his deportation rules has electrified the largely partisan debate over immigration policy heading into the next Congress

Many Democrats were up in arms that Obama decided to delay his deportation order until after the elections — a delay they say alienated Hispanic voters and contributed to Democratic losses in several swing districts.

In the wake of the executive action — which will halt deportations and make work permits available for as many as 5 million people living in the country illegally — the Democrats like their chances of taking back those seats amid a fight for the White House when many more voters, Hispanic and otherwise, are expected to participate. 

“The turnout is going to be huge,” one Democratic aide predicted Tuesday.

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Unions across the United States are reaching out to immigrants affected by President Barack Obama’s recent executive action, hoping to expand their dwindling ranks by recruiting millions of workers who entered the U.S. illegally.

Labor leaders say the president’s action, which curbs deportation and gives work permits to some 4 million immigrants, will give new protection to workers who have been reluctant to join for fear of retaliation.

“I think we’ll see very positive changes” because of the action, said Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1. “One of them, I hope, is that more workers will come forward and want to organize.”…

Unions say they can help protect immigrants against abuses such as wage theft and discrimination. And even if the immigrants aren’t citizens and cannot vote, they can help unions by paying dues and doing the heavy lifting needed around election time — knocking on doors, driving voters to the polls and making phone calls for pro-labor candidates.

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An investigative report by a Houston television station exposed that only a tiny fraction of the families and children who crossed in the border surge of 2012-14 are being returned to their home countries, despite Obama administration claims that the cases are a priority. According to immigration court records obtained by the station, only a few of the illegal family or child arrivals are qualified to stay in the United States, and the vast majority (91 percent) have simply absconded from their proceedings after release and joined the resident illegal population, where they are no longer a priority for enforcement under the new, expanded “prosecutorial discretion” policies…

It’s not clear to me what is smart or effective about a massive and costly catch-and-release scheme that has resulted in the illegal resettlement of tens of thousands of illegal aliens, with taxpayers now picking up the tab for schooling, health care, housing, public safety, and other expenses, and which has only increased the incentives for more people to try to enter illegally.

In the context of current catch-and-release policies, a focus on border apprehensions as a measure of the effectiveness of border security is meaningless, and deliberately misleading. Apprehensions are not a metric of enforcement when illegal aliens are apprehended and then routinely released under the guise of “deportation proceedings”, “asylum applications”, or even “budget constraints”.

Further, any proposals that claim to want to enhance border security and enforcement by providing more resources, more personnel, more technology, and more infrastructure for immigration agencies without addressing the underlying policies that serve to undercut enforcement should be viewed with great skepticism.

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An official close to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who sets the House agenda, said border security would be a priority for the incoming House. It remains unclear whether a bill acceptable to Republicans would also pass muster with Mr. Obama and other Democrats, who have long insisted that legalization for those in the U.S. illegally be included along with any increase in enforcement…

Other Republicans are preparing legislation to address additional aspects of the immigration system. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R., Idaho), a onetime immigration attorney, plans two bills, an aide said.

One would create a temporary worker program that would allow as many as 350,000 foreigners to enter the country each year for construction, restaurant and other low-skilled jobs. These workers would have most of the labor rights afforded in a broad immigration bill that passed the Senate last year, such as the right to change jobs…

Mr. Labrador’s second bill would aid some illegal immigrants by repealing rules known as the “three- and 10-year bars,” which effectively prevent undocumented immigrants from winning legal status through normal channels, such as an employment visa or marrying an American citizen. The existing rules require those who have been in the country illegally for longer than a year to return to their home country for 10 years before becoming eligible for legal status here. Those in the U.S. illegally for more than six months, but less than a year, must return home for three years.

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The nullification doctrine posits that, as the federal government is the product of the Constitution, and the Constitution is a compact of the states, it’s the states that have the final say on any law’s constitutionality. If a state determines that a law exceeds the terms of the compact to which it agreed, it has the right to nullify that law within its own borders.

Jefferson and Madison’s idea was for states to declare the Alien and Sedition Acts null and void. Instead of joining a lawsuit against the executive amnesty, those 25 states could simply deem the executive amnesty null and void, and refuse to recognize illegal aliens’ work permits or issue them driver’s licenses…

The judiciary has consistently ruled against the nullification doctrine, asserting its unique, judicial right to declare laws unconstitutional. But this executive order isn’t a law. And given its extremely shaky legal footing, it isn’t difficult to imagine a federal bench recognizing the states’ right to disregard federal orders that don’t clearly have the force of law. And that would be a tremendous — tremendous — blow against the executive’s assumption of legislative powers.

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It’s Barack Obama’s worst nightmare: A Republican president is elected in 2016 and systematically undoes the executive orders around which the president has staked his legacy.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said it isn’t going to happen. He predicted Mr. Obama’s administrative actions on immigration and Cuba will stand no matter who sits in the White House in 2017.

“Our first 100 days we spent a lot of time signing executive orders undoing what [President George W.] Bush did, and I would like not to be sitting on a beach somewhere reading about President [Ted] Cruz doing that to us, so it’s very important to us,” Mr. Pfeiffer said in an interview Friday with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors…

“I don’t think we will have a Republican president who doesn’t support immigration reform,” he said. “If we did have one and they undid our immigration executive order, it would be the last Republican president for most of our lifetimes.”

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“If we don’t at least make a down payment on solving the problem and rationally dealing with the 11 million [illegal immigrants believed to be in the U.S.], if we become the party of self-deportation in 2015 and 2016, then the chance of winning the White House I think is almost non-existent.”

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“So, the question then becomes, by me having taken these actions, does that spur those voices in the Republican Party who I think genuinely believe immigration is good for our country? Does it spur them to work once again with Democrats and my administration to get a reasonable piece of legislation done?” he said.

“Or does it simply solidify what I do think is a nativist trend in parts of the Republican party? And if it’s the latter, then probably we’re not going to get much more progress done, and it’ll be a major debate in the next presidential election,” he continued.