Immigration is becoming quite the red meat issue this year. President Obama vowed to take on this matter alone due to congressional gridlock, which had many wondering what executive orders he might issue to address this crisis. Earlier this month, Guy had a great post about Obama using the presidential pardon for millions of illegal immigrants in the United States. But, for now, the president could postpone his decision on what he'll do on immigration until after the elections (via Associated Press):
President Barack Obama's possible delay in taking action on immigration has thrown advocates and lawmakers from both parties a curveball, barely two months before the midterm elections.
Democrats who were bracing for the impact that Obama's long-awaited announcement would have on their campaigns are now rethinking aspects of their strategy for the fall. Republicans who were considering legislative attempts to block Obama must reconsider whether that's the best use of the few remaining work weeks before Election Day.
And immigration advocates, already frustrated by how long it's taken Obama to act, must decide whether to pressure the president publicly to stop stalling or remain hopeful he'll give them a favorable outcome in the end.
Obama in June said that by the end of the summer, he'd announce what steps he had decided to take to fix the nation's immigration system in the absence of a legislative fix from Capitol Hill. But Obama backed away from that deadline on Thursday, and the White House on Friday acknowledged it was possible the decision would slip past the end of summer. It was unclear whether any delay would be a mere matter of weeks or could push the announcement past the November elections.
In some ways, this decision has helped Republicans, some of which were planning not to extend funding the government come September and shutting it down again. At the same time, Colorado was the only race where an announcement on immigration from the Obama administration could’ve helped; Hispanics make up 21 percent of the population there. Then again, most of the senate races are in red states, with lower percentages of Hispanic voters (via Washington Post):
A dramatic move may well produce long-term political benefits with the nation’s fast-growing Latino electorate. But many of the crucial Senate battles this year are being fought in conservative states with small Latino populations where Obama is unpopular.
One state where the issue could pay dividends for Democrats this year is Colorado, where 21 percent of the population is Hispanic and Sen. Mark Udall (D) is in a close race against Rep. Cory Gardner (R). Udall has called on Obama to act.
The two impulses that Republican leaders are eager to tamp down are calls for Obama’s impeachment or another government shutdown.
Rep. Steve King (Iowa), a hard-line tea party conservative, said a shutdown is possible. He has accrued growing influence on the immigration issue this summer, helping to shape the House GOP border security legislation that passed in early August.
King said in an interview that if Obama does move forward with an executive action, many House Republicans will be unwilling to extend funding for the government that is set to expire at the end of September.
“I don’t see how we could reach agreement if he takes that posture,” King said. “It would throw us into a constitutional crisis.”
“No one wants to use the I-word,” King added, when asked about possible calls for impeachment. But he did not rule out the option.
So, given that Rep. King would be a sucker for this trap, if that were what the White House had in mind; then why not set it for the GOP. Impeachment and shutdown talk could torpedo Republican chances of retaking the senate. Mitch McConnell was saddled with a potentially embarrassing development when his campaign manager, Jesse Benton, resigned over a scandal where a Iowa State Senator received money to switch allegiances from Rep. Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul during the 2012 GOP primaries; Benton was chairman of Ron Paul's campaign.
Nevertheless, as Allahpundit wrote last month, immigration has become another situation where Obama is faced with a difficult decision, whose consequences will have one side furious with him no matter what:
With public sentiment moving towards security and away from legalization, he’s going to drop an amnesty atomic bomb for millions of illegals right before the midterms? C’mon. [Rep.] Gutierrez gets asked about that in the first clip and doesn’t even contest that the politics are dodgy. His answer is that we can’t put politics above doing what’s right for migrants, which is precisely what you’d expect a guy whose only loyalty is to “the immigrant community” to say. But what about O? At a minimum, if he’s really thinking about bringing America’s refugee apparatus to Central America to make immigration faster and safer for child migrants, you’d think he’d want to hold off on any political sudden moves for illegals who are already here. Mickey Kaus argues, in fact, that Obama’s painted himself into a corner: If he goes big on executive amnesty now, he might doom red-state Democrats in November. If, despite his promises, he goes small, Gutierrez will be back on MSNBC the next day blubbering about Obama’s final betrayal or whatever.
According to a CNN poll, 51 percent of Americans say that we should be moving towards enforcing the border and curbing the amount of illegals entering the country; that’s a 10-point swing from February of this year. Additionally, support for granting legal status to illegal aliens has dropped 9-points, with 45 percent supporting the idea; it was 54 percent in February.
The New York Times also noted that a delay would enrage immigration groups, while Rep. Gutierrez hopes the president doesn’t screw this up. Yet, Democratic senators have reached out to the White House informing them that a delay is justified, especially with the large numbers of unaccompanied minors heading towards the United States that has exacerbated the problem on the border:
For Mr. Obama, talk of a delay is politically explosive among Hispanics, who are one of his most loyal constituencies and twice helped him win the presidency. Long upset by Mr. Obama’s inability to successfully push comprehensive immigration overhaul in Congress, immigration rights advocates said Friday that a delay would be unconscionable.
Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois, who has at times been critical of the administration’s approach, said that delay “comes at a tremendous cost in terms of families split up and children placed in foster care.” He said he remained confident that the president would put families and security “ahead of short-term political maneuvers.”
Democratic senators have reached out to top White House officials, including Denis McDonough, the chief of staff, to argue that the recent crisis with unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States justifies a delay. Several Democratic officials on Capitol Hill said the angry reaction to that border crisis eroded public support for changing immigration policy, and in some cases, turned the issue into a negative one for them.
The president has a lot on his plate right now; he’s dealing with how to handle Russia in Ukraine, ISIS in the Middle East, and his announcement on what he’ll do about immigration now that vacation is over and he’s put his golf clubs away. What’s it going to be, sir?