As the summer comes to a close, the self-imposed deadline on President Obama’s unilateral immigration action is winding down. That is increasingly winding up Democratic candidates who think an Obama amnesty will sink their chances, like, say, Sen. Mark Pryor:
Democrats campaigning for re-election in conservative states worry that the president could fire up conservative voters if he acts unilaterally.
One of those senators, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, said the president’s frustration with Republicans who oppose an immigration overhaul did not give him “carte blanche authority to sidestep Congress when he doesn’t get his way.”
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Obama used to sing that same tune. Here he is in 2010, explaining that he does not have discretion to issue blanket amnesties:
If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as a opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there’s a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. That’s what the Executive Branch means. I can’t just make the laws up by myself.
Now, don’t be fooled by the NY Times’ suggestion above that Democratic panic is limited to conservative states. It’s not. As Guy wrote last week, the immigration issue is also fueling Scott Brown’s surge against New Hampshire’s Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who, by the way, has today abandoned her wait-and-see approach on this issue and announced that she opposes “a piecemeal approach issued by executive order.” Shaheen joins Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Sen. Mark Begich in urging Obama not to issue an executive order ending immigration enforcement for millions of aliens unlawfully present.
The Washington Post has unnamed “strategists” claiming that if Obama does announce a broad executive order, it will be because he has given up on the Senate. On the other hand, as Noah explained last night, many in the news media are gleefully pushing the idea that the GOP would unleash another government shutdown in response to an Obama amnesty. The media assumption is that an immigration-related shutdown would be as unpopular as last fall’s shutdown and boost Democratic chances in November. I don’t think that’s a safe assumption. Unlike last year’s squabble over the budget, immigration enforcement is an issue on which Republicans show increasing unity even as Democrats are increasingly fractured.
The AP has the best information I could find on when Obama plans to unleash immigration mayhem. According to AP, Obama had planned to announce by Labor Day, but that has been pushed back by the ongoing foreign policy meltdowns in Russia, Syria, and Iraq. At this point, it looks like an immigration announcement would come in a few more weeks.