President Obama is expected to take executive action to help illegal immigrants stay in the country while Congress is away on a five-week recess, pro-immigrant advocates said Saturday…
“I’ve heard not to expect anything until toward the end of August. They’ve been listening to suggestions by advocates over what could be done. The president has yet to make a decision about what steps he plans to take,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens…
She said the president through unilateral action can reform the immigration system as much as possible to reflect the goals of the comprehensive immigration reform bill Senate Democrats and 14 Senate Republicans passed last year.
What can President Barack Obama actually do without Congress to change U.S. immigration policies? A lot, it turns out…
Here is what Obama could not do without approval from Congress: He couldn’t generally give large groups of immigrants permission to remain permanently in the United States, and he couldn’t grant them American citizenship. And he couldn’t generally make them eligible for federal or state social benefit programs, such as welfare payments, food stamps or the administration’s health care plans.
“There is prosecutorial discretion which can be exercised in these sorts of situations,” said Leon Rodriguez, a former Justice Department lawyer and the newly confirmed director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “In most enforcement realms, generally there is pretty broad discretion.” Rodriguez spoke earlier this week on Capitol Hill during an oversight hearing for the House Judiciary Committee.
[Time magazine:] How much of your time do you have to spend worrying about, thinking about and addressing the pressure from the Hill to constrain the executive branch?
[Eric Holder:] We’ll have to see. There’s a very tangible thing we’re going to potentially have to deal with, which is the lawsuit that I think the House is going to file at some point. And the Justice department will obviously be involved in that. But in terms of the use of executive action, the president has appropriately used executive authority as other presidents have. He’s used executive action, around 180 times, something like that. I was looking the other day just at a list of presidents and Teddy Roosevelt issued about 1,000 executive orders. So in terms of magnitude this president has not used this authority nearly as much as his critics would say. But when executive action is proposed it is something that is reviewed here by the appropriate components within the Justice department and a legal determination made that the President can act in that way.
I’ve made this point before, but I’d like to make it again: Exactly why is John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama so frivolous? I don’t mean this in a strictly legal sense. It may be that the suit fails immediately for lack of standing. Or that the merits of this particular case don’t hold water. We can let the lawyers battle that out.
Politically, though, what’s wrong with asking a court to decide if a federal agency has overstepped the will of Congress in its execution of the law? The answer, of course, is: nothing. People do it all the time, hundreds of times a year. The only difference here is that a house of Congress is doing it. But why does that suddenly make it frivolous?
It could be that you think courts should stick to their traditional practice of staying neutral in “political” disputes between branches of the government. That’s fine. But it’s not an argument that’s gotten much air time. You might also think it sets a bad precedent. But again, I’m not hearing that. Instead, the argument seems to be that this suit is simply absurd on its face, an idiotic piece of grandstanding by the Republican Party.
Rather than responding to the House’s lawsuit by showing leadership, it appears this is just one more instance in which President Obama can’t seem to rise to the occasion. If handled correctly, the former constitutional law professor could use this as a teachable moment. But that would require the president to talk about his view of the separation of powers and how he sees the stakes involved. Instead, the bored icon currently stuck in the presidency chooses to be flippant. He says snarky things to partisan crowds and gets attaboys from the sycophants around him. This White House must be the least intellectually challenging and the most insular in history. The Obama administration mostly denies there are any problems, blames others for the calamities piling up at home and abroad, and views their critics as simpletons unworthy of their attention.
The president’s dismissal of most things — including the legal action brought by the House — brings out the worst in others who follow his lead. The Democrats don’t bother to learn what it would take to thoughtfully advocate for or properly defend a position; they just revert to the pedantic talking points of their political handlers and fundraising consultants…
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is acting like he is the only adult left in Washington. At least he is taking a mature, measured approach to the lawsuit and clearly articulating why it is the right action whose time has come – which is more than we can say for anyone associated with Obama and the Democratic party.
The actual officeholders and party professionals stoking impeachment talk are all Democrats. This is disquieting for several reasons. For starters, having White House officials and leading congressional Democrats claim with straight faces that impeachment is a serious threat is cynical and dishonest. Its purpose is to frighten liberals into donating money to Democrats, a tactic that is working. But it suggests a political party that is out of gas and out of ideas…
This is the sixth year of the presidency of someone elected to the highest office in the land despite obvious gaps in his experience. A majority of voters in this country overlooked his thin résumé to take a chance on an aspirational figure whose very visage simultaneously extended the reach of the American Dream while breaking the racial barriers that had long undermined the nation’s founding spirit.
In the ensuing years, other priorities asserted themselves. The economy remained stalled; a massive health care law was not as advertised; global hot spots ignited, and the U.S. response was indecisive. Along the way, as has happened to other presidents, Barack Obama’s popularity declined. Maybe his luck just ran out. Or perhaps his lack of experience showed. His supporters maintain that the 44th president was hamstrung by a doggedly unhelpful opposition party. These explanations are not mutually exclusive. Nor are these new difficulties for the occupant of the Oval Office.
This simply does not happen in our politics. Presidents are granted broad powers over foreign policy, and they tend to push the envelope substantially in wartime. But domestic power grabs are usually modest in scope, and executive orders usually work around the margins of hotly contested issues…
But in political terms, there is a sordid sort of genius to the Obama strategy. The threat of a unilateral amnesty contributes to internal G.O.P. chaos on immigration strategy, chaos which can then be invoked (as the president did in a Friday news conference) to justify unilateral action. The impeachment predictions, meanwhile, help box Republicans in: If they howl — justifiably! — at executive overreach, the White House gets to say “look at the crazies — we told you they were out for blood.”…
This is the tone of the media coverage right now: The president may get the occasional rebuke for impeachment-baiting, but what the White House wants to do on immigration is assumed to be reasonable, legitimate, within normal political bounds.
And an American political class that lets this Rubicon be crossed without demurral will deserve to live with the consequences for the republic, in what remains of this presidency and in presidencies yet to come.
A House Republican on Sunday said the lower chamber would have to consider impeaching President Obama if he proceeds with plans to expand the deferral of deportations for millions of illegal immigrants.
“If the president has decided that he’s not going to enforce any immigration law … I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution and that includes that I-word that we don’t want to say,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Where would we draw the line otherwise?” he added. “If that’s not enough to bring [impeachment] then I don’t know what would be. We’ve never seen anything in this country like a president that says ‘I’m going to make up all immigration law that I choose, and I’m going to drive this thing regardless of the resistance of Congress.’ ”