President Barack Obama promised to act on immigration reform though executive actions by the end of the summer. He’s delaying that action until after the November election out of concern that Democrats will be punished at the polls for his action. However, it is already clear that Republicans will use the impending delay to pummel its opposition in the lead up to the election.
“Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said in a New York Times report. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.”
The Republicans look assured to hold on to the House of Representatives following November’s election, but there are several Senate seats up for grabs. Obama has not been successfully able to negotiate with the Republicans since they took the House. Facing a Republican House and Senate will put him in a worse negotiating position than at any other point in his presidency.
It’s already obvious that the Republican Party will use the delay and the threat of unilateral action by Obama on immigration to batter Democrats while campaigning during the next couple of months.
At conservative blog Hot Air, Ed Morrissey discussed the situation.
“This is nothing more than a head fake to keep voters from punishing Democrats for Obama’s attempts to abuse the separation-of-powers structure in American government. Republican candidates should use this transparently pusillanimous maneuver to put their Democratic opponents on the spot, and remind voters that Obama’s just waiting until after the election to steamroll Congress. Why not elect a Republican Senate to tighten the check on Obama’s exercise of power in light of this head-fake attempt?”
Breitbart’s John Nolte also spotted the same opening.
Punting on his lawless immigration action will only give the GOP a bigger talking point b4 elections. Unknown scarier than known.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) September 6, 2014
The action is also sure to infuriate immigration advocates who have been hoping for reform since Obama began his presidency in 2009. The Center for American Progress and the SEIU have already expressed their disappointment, as reported by Politico.
“There is going to be a lot of skepticism about whether he will actually do it,” said Angela Kelley, an immigration strategist at the Center for American Progress. “He will have to present a pretty strong, convincing case that the issue isn’t going to be left at the alter yet again.”
The leaders of the Service Employees International Union issued a statement that they “are deeply disappointed but not paralyzed.”
“By far, this isn’t the end game,” said SEIU president Mary Kay Henry and executive vice president Rocio Saenz in a joint statement. “Immigration reform has and always will be our future. While the president will continue to hear from us, Congress will feel the pressure of a growing electorate.”
Will President Obama’s decision to help delay immigration reform through executive action help Democrats in the November election or was this a strategic mistake that will give Republicans a different kind of ammunition to use? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.