President Obama’s Thoroughly Tawdry Executive Action Delay on Immigration

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Well, its official.

Cueing up speculation, anticipation, and expectation, the president announced to reporters at the end of his recent NATO summit that he had received recommendations on his immigration executive order from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice and that, “I suspect that on my flight back, this’ll be part of my reading, taking a look at some of the specifics that we’ve looked at. And I’ll be making an announcement soon.”

That followed a June 30 Rose Garden appearance in which the president vowed “to issue broad directives to overhaul the immigration system soon after summer’s end.”

No he won’t.

The rational is not hard to discern, although it is not the one that the administration provided. According to “a White House official,” “The reality the president has had to weigh is that we’re in the midst of the political season, and 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.”

Right. Sure. Of course announcing a major amnesty by executive order right after the November elections will do a great deal to further the cause of “comprehensive immigration reform”.

As anyone whose brain is in working order knows, “Senate Democrats have warned that any bold executive action ran the risk of upending the chances of several Democratic incumbents running for reelection in southern states, where Obama is unpopular and the issue of immigration reform isn’t as urgent.” And any hope the president has not to lose political control of the Senate is a step the president will take, even if it means alienating his Hispanic and progressive allies once again.

Embarrassingly, the president’s narrative shills over at Politico reported this story as follows: “More top Democrats are pressuring President Barack Obama to slow down on immigration reform, further diminishing the chances that he’ll take sweeping administrative action before Election Day.”

Yes, that’s right, “sweeping administrative action” now equals “immigration reform.”

Or at least it appears to for the two reporters, Carrie Budoff Brown and Anna Palmer, who wrote the story. In so characterizing the president’s controversial and legitimately debatable promised actions that bypass Congress’ historic and constitutional role in setting immigration policy as “reform”, they reveal a lack of substance and perspective along with serving as a thoughtless conduit for Democratic spin.

At some point, if they continue writing about this story, they may wish to acquaint themselves with Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, and successive national immigration laws passed by both houses of Congress beginning in 1790 and continuing through 1990 (The Immigration Act of 1990) and beyond.

The president’s calculations are clear. He anticipates that when he does announce his new immigration executive actions, they will be sweeping enough to get his immigration allies to agree it was worth the wait. That almost certainly requires policies that will most likely affect millions, and will be enormously controversial — not only to Republicans, but to ordinary Americans as well.

The question is whether in acting on this calculation the president has once again outsmarted himself.

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