• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

White House May Hold Off On Immigration Action Until After Election

border-illegal-aliens-flag

At the beginning of the summer, President Obama said that he was directing his administration to come up with steps that he could take as President to deal with immigration issues in light of the fact that the House of Representatives had made it clear that it would not be acting on either the bill that the Senate passed last year or any other bill before the midterm elections. Almost immediately, the President’s announcement was cited by many on the right as another sign of the executive overreach that they have accused him of for several years now, and which is also the basis for the lawsuit that the House of Representative recently authorized to be filed against him. More recently, some Members of Congress, most especially Texas Senator Ted Cruz, hinted that if the President took any such action prior to the midterms, then Republicans in Congress would be forced to consider shutting down the government over the issue. Indeed, Cruz himself had threatened such a shutdown earlier this summer, although he and other Republicans have backed off of that talk in recent weeks and have asserted that all of the talk of shutdowns is coming from Democrats.

On the other side of the political aisle, the pressures on President Obama have been pulling him in different directions. On the one side are the groups that has pushing for immigration reform for some time now, including organized labor, and are now pressing him to at least do something similar to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he announced last year. On the other side, though, are party officials and, especially, vulnerable Democrats, who are concerned that executive action that was announced before the midterm elections would only serve to increase turnout from those opposed to immigration reform. While it’s unclear what the President is going to do, there have been several recent hints from the White House that we shouldn’t expect any action any time soon:

The White House has signaled that President Obama’s pledge to reform the nation’s immigration system could happen later than the end of the summer, a deadline it set earlier this year.

Obama has pledged to circumvent Congress and unilaterally overhaul immigration, and has said previously that he would do so by the end of the summer. But he and other White House officials began suggesting in recent days that any action may happen later than planned.

During a news conference Thursday, Obama suggested that a flood of Central American children at the southwestern border, which peaked in the spring and is now abating, has had an impact on the potential timing of his decision.

Some of these things do affect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done,” he said.

A White House official said the timing of any potential action on immigration could influence migrations to the border.

 When asked about a timeline Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest did not mention the end-of-summer deadline, which officials have been touting for weeks. But he also declined to say whether Obama would delay decisions on immigration until later this fall or after the November midterms.

“That’s putting the cart before the horse,” Earnest said.

Earnest said Obama has not yet received final recommendations from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on how to address the immigration issue. The White House had previously said that those recommendations were to be given to Obama by the end of summer.

“So those who are speculating about how those recommendations might be implemented are a little ahead of themselves,” Earnest said.

Obama said Thursday that the flow of unaccompanied minors and other issues have “kept us busy, but it has not stopped the process of looking more broadly about how do we get a smarter immigration system in place while we’re waiting for Congress to act.”

Obama said he still believes “that if I can’t see congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better.”

Administration officials said earlier this month that the surge of children and Congress’s failure to pass broad immigration reform spurred Obama toward taking action by the end of the summer.

However, some Democrats in tight midterm election races, including Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.), have said that Obama should not sidestep Congress when it comes to immigration reform.

Based on some of the reports that have some out over the summer, if the President does take action in this area, it is likely to be something quite similar to DACA. Instead of just applying to children who have been here illegally, though, it would likely apply to spouses and family members of people who do have legal status as well as others who might fairly be said to fall into some sort of a family hardship category.  This wouldn’t be any means cover all of the people who are in the country illegally notwithstanding the claims by some on the right that President Obama is planning to legalize everyone who’s in the country, not the least because he doesn’t have the legal authority to do that. What the President does have the legal authority to do, though, is exactly what he did with DACA; provide temporary relief to a group of people that meet certain criteria. This authority exists both thanks to the discretion granted to the Executive Branch by Congress and to the concept of prosecutorial discretion. So, whatever it is that the President is planning to do, it’s pretty clear that he has the legal authority to do it, and in that regard it’s worth noting that Congress has not included DACA as one of the examples of alleged executive overreach that form the basis for their lawsuit.

Leaving aside the legal merits for executive action, though, what the White House finds itself dealing with here is the politics of the matter. In some broad sense, the Presidents actions would probably be supported by the American public, although even that is unclear given the fact that his own job approval is so low that anything he does is likely to be opposed by a majority of the public just for that reason. However, the passion on this issue is almost entirely one sided, and if taking this action before the election leads to more voters who would vote for Republicans in states like North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, and Colorado to turn out on Election Day then it could end up costing the Democrats the Senate in a year when it is still theoretically possible that they could pull off holding on to enough seats to maintain control. Given that, you have to ask whether it would be worth it and, if the White House decides to hold off until after November then I can’t say I blame them.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    Political cowardiceLiberals know thay can’t run on their record or even less their policy aspirations.
    Obama has done this several times previously, including both of his own elections. THerefore it should be no shock at all that he’s doing it here. .

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 18

  2. al-Ameda says:

    This is prudence and practicality on his part. Republicans want nothing but deportations and more border enforcement so any proposal in the part of the Administration would be as DOA as Rick Perry’s IQ.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  3. Rick DeMent says:

    Political cowardice Liberals know they can’t run on their record or even less their policy aspirations.

    Yes this, because the right is so forthcoming on their policy aspirations that anything the democrats come up with simply cannot stand up the to reflected light …

    The conservatives spend so much time trying to hide, camouflage and obfuscate their policy solutions that it’s a wonder they can’t fund their entire legislative agenda from the winnings of their hide and seek championships alone.

    Case in point have the Republicans ever come up with a detailed plan to “secure” the border? Not vague promises about a wall and “doubling” border patrols, but a complete plan including what it would cost to to secure the border to their satisfaction? Ever?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  4. Jr says:

    @Eric Florack: Oh the irony. When was the last time the GOP were able to run on their record, it must of been Ike.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. Tyrell says:

    Overall, immigration is a good thing. Newcomers enrich our culture, and we enrich their culture. It can be a win-win situation.
    What needs to be done are some simple steps to bring about some semblance of order to this intolerable situation of hordes of people flooding in, in this case children. A blanket sort of amnesty thing ordered by the president will make things worse. Buses should not be rolling through the border like it is Saturday morning at the theme park !
    Set up a quick procedure in case of hardship or danger to get temporary permission to enter the country. Other people have gone through the process and followed the law. The process can add a “fast pass” entrance if deemed necessary by officials on a case by case basis, not for a whole bus load.
    Increase security at the borders. All buses, cars, trucks, rickshaws, motorcycles will be searched. No exceptions.
    Those who can find a sponsor, such as a church, organization, or individual will be granted permission to enter, subject to background checks. Maybe even some of these politicians will help out and let them stay in their homes. They cannot locate in communities where this could put a hardship on services or schools. Many schools are already overcrowded because of cuts to their budgets. There are many states and communities that have already been overwhelmed because our leaders have done nothing even though they were warned that things were getting bad. If a community or town wants to help some of these people and it doesn’t put an extra burden on their budgets, great.
    Anyone with gang ties, gang backgrounds, or gang type tattoos will not be allowed to come in. This country has enough gang problems.
    These and other common sense measures could be adopted if our legislatures just put their heads together and came up with some solutions.
    It used to be that the parents would come here, find a place to live, find a job (to their credit they come to work, not take a handout from the government), learn the language, and get things halfway set up before they would send for their kids. Now they are sending their kids up here first. That makes for a bad situation. Having a fair, orderly process is what is needed.
    Read “Bordering on Madness” article by Thomas Sowell (7/22/2014)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. JKB says:

    “Cowardice, or politically prudent?”

    Yes.

    On the other hand, Democrats have to worry about an ISIS attack before the election that is then traced to them entering over the Southern border during the Obama deluge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  7. James Pearce says:

    If they genuinely want to influence immigration policy, the Republicans should prefer to address this until after the election anyway.

    But honestly, it doesn’t seem like the GOP really wants to influence immigration policy so much as they want to use the immigration issue for election-related shenanigans, whether that’s trying for increased turn-out or trying for increased campaign donations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  8. James Pearce says:

    @JKB:

    “On the other hand, Democrats have to worry about an ISIS attack before the election that is then traced to them entering over the Southern border during the Obama deluge.”

    Dude, you’re the second person I’ve heard speculating about an ISIS-via-Mexico terrorist attack. Where is this coming from?

    (Well…besides the fever swamps.)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:
    ISIS is infiltrating by way of our border with Mexico? I realize that this a conservative wet dream / nightmare, but, really …. I’m on my way to Vegas to bet the Under on that one. By the way, the last terrorist to attack us by way of Mexico was Salma Hayek, and we know how THAT turned out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Obama has done this several times previously, including both of his own elections.

    Done what? Oh yes, punk slapped the GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  11. anjin-san says:

    @al-Ameda:

    ISIS is infiltrating by way of our border with Mexico?

    it’s worse. ISIS fighters with ebola are infiltrating by way of our border with Mexico. And they are going to take our women.

    Welcome to the fever swamp!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  12. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    an ISIS attack

    Wow. The right wing noise machine tells you to panic, and you do so on cue. Good boy. Do you want a cookie?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  13. Tyrell says:

    The president has yet to make a clear, compelling case for taking action through some sort of executive order that the courts could turn around and rule illegal. Why now? What is the rush? Not so fast, Mr. President. Exactly what does he plan to do? Give us details, don’t just speak in generalities about this. What about the hordes flocking across the border like it is black Friday Christmas shopping day at the mall? How does he plan to help the communities and towns that are being hit hard by this, with no funds to help these people. Communities and towns should be given some voice in all of this, as well as the people. Once an “amnesty” plan is announced, there will be so many coming in that they will need 747’s instead of buses. Under no circumstances should a person come in illegally and summarily be allowed to get social security, food stamps, a drivers license, free college, or cable.
    From what I have heard from Democrats around here they are very nervous about any amnesty.
    Read “Under Age and On the Move” in The Economist, June 28 article. Take a look at the “Surge at the Border” graphs and information that accompanies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  14. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @anjin-san: I can get cookies for panicking on cue? I didn’t know that. Where can I sign up? I want a cookie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  15. President Camacho says:

    Just as long as the price of my lawn service doesn’t go up and that place that makes those mini tacos doesn’t go out of business. Seriously though, bush was in office 8 yrs WTF did he reform WrT immigration? I know he pushed a needless war and botched it along the way but besides a big effing wall what was his plan? What does the current GOP have in store? Bc guess what the problem isn’t going away. I remember building a house w my church in Juarez yrs ago and looking at the houses across the border in El Paso thinking “he’ll yes I would run across to if I had a family to support or wanted a better life”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  16. socraticsilence says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Eric,

    you’re repping a party that ran on economic development and freedom in 2010 but which, when they actually won at the state level preceded to act primarily to restrict freedom for female citizens, why the hell should we believe anything the GOP has to say when it’s primary agenda post-2010 was attacking a woman’s right to bodily autonomy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  17. Tyrell says:

    @President Camacho: That is exactly what I am talking about. It is time our elected leaders listened to the people. They are there to serve us, not the other way around.
    Here is an idea that could work. Appoint a committee of people like policemen, teachers, social workers, medical professionals, pastors, and construction workers: people who are out there in the real world (politicians can sit this one out). They would go around the country to towns and communities holding community meetings and getting the views and ideas of average, middle class people concerning changes to the immigration laws. Then they put the ideas together and come up with a plan that the president and congress must agree to pass.
    It is time our elected leaders listened to the people instead of the lobbyists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @Tyrell:

    There are over 100 million people living in the third world who want to come to the U.S. What do you think will happen when you let them all in. And if you believe that they all create a hard luck story, then you are a fool.

    I find it humorous that what most people want to do to limit immigration in the long run is to lower the standard of living of the average American to the level of a third world resident. Why do so many pundits, wonks, and politicians want to control immigration by turning the U.S. into a third world and thus, removing the economic reasons to come to the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  19. bill says:

    @Tyrell: true, it’s the illegal ones that are the issue- i live/work with tons of immigrants who mainly did it the legal way, and now we’re doing them a disservice if we just open the gates. we should be choosy about who gets in here, we have enough people who won’t work already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  20. Eric Florack says:

    @socraticsilence: Oh, please.
    Any stretch for the agenda, huh? You must be wonderful at “Twister”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  21. AB55 says:

    @Eric Florack: OBAMA WILL NOT MAKE THE DECISION ON AMNESTY, BUT I BET AFTER ELECTIONS ARE OVER, DEMOCRATS WILL ANNOUNCE THEY ARE GIVING AMNESTY, WE CANNOT LET THEM DO THAT.

    ILLEGALS ARE A HUGE FINANCIAL BURDEN TO THE U.S. WE HAVE A FINANCIAL CRISIS GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY NOW NOT INCLUDING AMNESTY, WHO KNOWS WHEN WE WILL RECOVER WE OWN APPROX. 18 BILLION, THIS WILL TAKE PROBABLY 25 YRS IF WE START PAYING ON IT.

    FORGET FOREIGN-AID ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, NO ONE IS GOING TO HELP US. WE CANNOT HELP EVERYBODY, BUT WE SHOULD BE HELPING OURSELVES. WE HAVE A LOT OF CITIZENS WHO CANNOT EVEN PUT 3 MEALS ON THE DAY DAILY FOR THEIR FAMILIES, BUT WE THROW MILLIONS & BILLIONS TO OTHER COUNTRIES, EVEN THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE US. ARE WE THAT STUPID? TIME TO TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES TO STOP ALL FOREIGN-AID, AND DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS.

    IF REPUBLICANS DON’T GET THE VOTES, OBAMA WILL BE LETTING EVERY SINGLE ILLEGAL STATE, WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN.

    MOTHERS & FATHERS I PLEAD TO YOU, OBAMA ALREADY IS DEMANDING ISLAM BE TAUGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS, DO YOU REALIZE HE IS PREPARING YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE? DO YOU REALIZE HOW WOMEN IN THIS CULTURE ARE TREATED & THE GIRLS, DEMOCRATS WILL LEAD WOMEN & GIRLS TO A LIFE OF TORTURE, SEX & ABUSE
    BEFORE YOUR DAUGHTER IS 10 YRS. HECK THERE HAVE BEEN 3 MONTH OLD BABIES THAT HAVE DIED FROM THESE MEN HAVING SEX WITH THEM. DON’T ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO AMERICA. IF OBAMA & THE DEMOCRATS HAVE THEIR WAY, YOU ARE READING OF OUR FUTURE.

    DO NOT VOTE DEMOCRATS, NOT SAYING REPUBLICANS WAYS ARE RIGHT, BUT IT BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE. VOTE AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0