So Obama took executive action on immigration. What now?
President Obama has announced a series of limited steps he is taking to partially fix the country’s broken immigration system. The big question is, what happens now — legally, politically, morally, and practically?
The predicted reaction from Republicans has been, well, predictable. Varying degrees of outrage, possible impeachment, lawsuits, even jail time for the president. Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann claims that “illiterate Hispanics” will vote Democratic. Some, like Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, even have predicted violence, anarchy, and “ethnic cleansing.” So a group of white Republican voters is going to commit an act of violence against the women who clean their houses, the men who mow their lawns, and the children who pick their fruits and vegetables? I don’t think so.
Republicans are masters at expressing outrage, but less so on offering any ideas of substance. The earlier talking point was “poisoning the well.” Now it seems to be claiming that Obama is offering “amnesty” to all immigrants here illegally, although that clearly isn’t what he told the country. It’s also clear that few Republicans actually understand what “amnesty” actually means. Even Fox News’ Megyn Kelly admitted that Republicans just use the term to get people riled up. And let’s not forget that GOP Saint Ronald Reagan was the biggest amnesty-giver of them all.
In one interview, a Republican lawmaker was repeatedly asked what the GOP would offer to tell those in other countries that the borders were NOT wide open. His answer was “I don’t understand your question,” and then he launched into how these new executive actions tell those in other countries that the borders ARE now wide open. Even though that’s the opposite of what Obama said — these actions do not apply to those who arrived recently and do not apply to future illegal immigrants.
It would have been better for the networks to give Obama the ten minutes the administration asked for so people could listen to the actual outline of his actions, but I guess 1) they’re too afraid of being labeled the “liberal media” and 2) it’s Sweeps month, and God help anything that postpones finding out who killed Sam on “How to Get Away With Murder.”
As responsible journalists have pointed out and as Obama said last night, the limited executive actions follow the same steps taken by other recent presidents, both Democratic and Republican, since Dwight Eisenhower. So legally, Obama is covered. Republicans won’t say it out loud, but those with brains in their party know so. Even some conservative members of the Supreme Court have said so.
On the moral front, most reasonably thinking people would say it’s a good thing if families can stay together, and that parents shouldn’t be deported if it means leaving children behind in this country.
Politically? This could be a tinderbox. Obama threw down a gauntlet to the GOP, saying that if they don’t like him taking action, “pass a bill.” Let’s see a show of hands: Who thinks they’ll do it? I didn’t think so. The bipartisan Senate bill that passed with a wide margin in the Senate has been sitting in the House all year, and House Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring it to a vote, even though it likely would pass with a majority of all Democrats and some Republicans. It’s more important for the GOP to deny Obama a victory, despite that fact that immigration reform has wide support from the American people, business groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc., etc.
Why should we think Republicans will all of a sudden find religion on immigration? The low voter turnout in the midterm election of 36.4 percent shows that their side turned out, and the Democratic side — which ostensibly would contain more Hispanic voters — didn’t. So the GOP isn’t paying a political price. It won’t work in the long run, but no doubt Republicans will think of new ways to suppress voting to try to ensure election night victories. And the cowardice of too many Democrats in persuading Obama to delay his actions on immigration no doubt helped to suppress the Hispanic vote.
As far as the well being poisoned, which party started poisoning the well on election night in 2008? Hint: It wasn’t the Democrats.
On the practical side of things, these executive actions will be good for the country. Those earning wages will be paid legally and will pay their share of taxes, boosting state and federal coffers. More unified families mean more stable families — families that can spend more money, boosting the economy.
Of course, the third time is the charm for something — the House GOP finally found a lawyer to file a lawsuit against Obama for doing something they wanted him to do anyway. The lawsuit, passed a full four months ago in the GOP-led House, goes after the president for acting on his own to delay the employer mandate for health insurance for a year. Which the House had passed before. And it doesn’t ask for any relief or change, it only asks for a ruling. No doubt the court will make quick work of throwing it out, since those suing can’t claim that it has damaged them, and thus lack standing to bring the suit.
So get out your popcorn and get ready to watch. But don’t expect Congress to do anything — they’ve already left for Thanksgiving vacation.