House Democrats on Thursday urged President Obama to take “bold” executive action to stop the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, and vigorously defended his authority to do so despite GOP claims of presidential overreach…
“What we want the president to do is act big act, act bold, act broadly and act soon,” [Luis Gutierrez] said. [He] encouraged the president not to wait until after an upcoming government spending bill is settled. Some Republicans have suggested such a bill could be a vehicle for fighting the president on immigration…
“Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and there was much to be said about it at the time. But he led with executive action,” said Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.). Green later added: “When Truman signed the order desegregating the military, there was much being said. But it desegregated the military.”
Added Lofgren: “Presidents have broad authority and have used it for decades.”
“We’re begging the president — there’s urgency to this — you said you were going to do it. Go big!” Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) said Wednesday during a press briefing outside the Capitol.
Citing Tuesday’s observance of Veterans Day, Vargas urged Obama to help military families in particular — “families that have been divided because you haven’t acted yet,” he charged…
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, piled on, saying the move to keep immigrant families together is “a moral and an economic” imperative.
“Talk is cheap. Action is what these families want,” Hoyer said. “What the president needs to do is give immediate and significant relief to those families that are being wrenched apart and living in fear. I’m proud to join my colleagues in that request.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that he has urged President Barack Obama not to take any executive action on immigration until December, amid threats from Republicans that such a move could derail funding for the government.
“The president has said he’s going to do the executive action — the question is when he can do it. It’s up to him,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’d like to get the finances of this country out of the way before he does it.”
Reid added that he has expressed his view to Obama, but ultimately “it’s up to him.”
And at the very same time, Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez had gathered a score of fellow Democrats at a TV studio on the House side of the Capitol, where they took turns one-upping each other in calls for the president to go big. Georgia Representative Hank Johnson compared the possible executive order to the Emancipation Proclamation, and speculated about which of its defenders would star in a movie adaptation of the struggle. New York Representative Jose Serrano promised, in the language of “the barrio,” that Latinos would “have his back” if Obama acted.
“We will circle the president on fire,” said Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. “We will be on fire for rightness and justice.”
When the parade of Democrats ended, Gutierrez was asked what he made of Reid’s caution.
“I have nothing but the greatest respect for the senior senator from Nevada, but I disagree with him wholeheartedly,” said Gutierrez. “I believe that the blessings should be bountiful this Thanksgiving, when I break bread with my family.”
[T]here are practical reasons why the president should make his immigration action as broad as possible. He is going to face intense pushback from GOP lawmakers no matter what he does. So why not go big on immigration? A cautious move would disappoint Latino voters and progressives at a time when the president will need allies. Obama’s move could well redefine his legacy with Latinos, who have been frustrated by record deportations and broken promises on immigration.
True, some people may be concerned about the prospect of the president acting alone on such an important issue. However, the nonpartisan American Immigration Council reports that U.S presidents have used their executive authority to take action on immigration at least as far back as 1956; that includes former presidents like Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
In September, 136 law professors from across the USA signed a letter to the White House expressing their support for the legality of his offering undocumented immigrants’ relief from deportation. And Obama is not closing the door on congressional action, either. Senior Obama adviser Dan Pfieffer told Bloomberg News that, if Congress sends the president a bill on comprehensive reform, he would be willing to “tear up” his unilateral orders.
Speaker John Boehner told House Republicans on Thursday that he offered a stiff warning to President Barack Obama last week: Unilateral action on immigration will kill immigration reform and “jeopardize other issues as well.”
During a closed GOP meeting in the Capitol basement, Boehner said Obama is “playing with fire, and when you play with fire, you get burned.”
“I told the president last week directly: ‘If you proceed with executive amnesty, not only can you forget about getting immigration reform enacted during your presidency, you can also expect it to jeopardize other issues as well,’” Boehner said, according to a source in the room. “We don’t know when exactly he’ll do it or how exactly he’ll do it. But if he proceeds, we are going to fight it.”
One House member in Thursday’s GOP conference meeting says Boehner said his message to the president was: “Just give us one more chance to pass an immigration bill.” Another member says those weren’t the House speaker’s exact words but confirmed Boehner mentioned requesting the president hold off on taking executive action.
The first member said there was no indication Boehner meant to pass an immigration bill in the lame duck session. “Nobody’s thinking that,” the member said. “We’re talking next year.”
Boehner did not clarify in the conference meeting how the House planned to act if the president did use executive actions to achieve a number of his immigration priorities.
Harry Reid will obviously not agree to any funding riders prohibiting Obama from issuing work permits to illegal aliens. Also, the Republican leadership has already said it’s not going to engineer another government shutdown. But in the next Congress, the House could pull out the Homeland Security budget (rather than fold it into an omnibus funding bill for the whole government) and attach the rider just to that, so when Obama vetoes it, only DHS will be subject to a “shutdown.” The reason for the quotation marks is that it won’t be much of a shutdown since law-enforcement components continue to function as “essential personnel,” including the Border Patrol, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, ICE, and the TSA. In fact, the chief component of DHS that actually would be idled by a budget battle would be US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the very bureau that would have to implement Obama’s lawless amnesty.
This creates a Catch 22 for Obama, if only the GOP has the wit to exploit it — if he signs a DHS budget with the rider prohibiting his amnesty, then it doesn’t happen (though he would still be able to implement certain other parts of his lawless plan). But if he vetoes it, the agency that he needs to process the amnesty is furloughed, so the amnesty still doesn’t happen.
But all this depends on Congress approving a short-term spending bill (a Continuing Resolution or CR) now — one that would keep spending at the current (absurdly high) levels for the next two or three months, so the new GOP-run Congress can have a free hand.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) says impeachment should be on the table if President Barack Obama moves forward with executive amnesty…
“To me a constitutional question means that we have the option of impeachment,” Jones said, explaining that he thinks the best option to confront Obama’s executive amnesty would be impeachment.
“We have a Constitution, and I am very disappointed from year to year that we do not follow the Constitution. To me, if you think the president has violated his trust of office, meaning with the American people, then follow the Constitution,” Jones added.
Mitt Romney’s 2012 policy director, Lanhee Chen, works in Silicon Valley these days at a free-market think tank called the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus. Over lunch this week, he made a surprising prediction: Congressional Republicans would pass a version of immigration reform by mid-2015, with the effect of defusing the issue in the upcoming presidential primaries.
By Thursday morning, his hopes had faded substantially, based on reports that President Obama is set to go through with his long-promised executive action on immigration — potentially shielding millions of people from deportation.
“I’m less optimistic” now, Chen said, in an interview in his office on Stanford’s campus, where I am spending a week on a paid media fellowship. “Because I think the politics of this are going to be very tricky on the right.”
Via the Corner.
Via the Free Beacon.