Executive Orders & Immigration Politics

Today, President Obama announced that he would be offering relief to those who have been in the country for 5 years, have resident or citizen children and pass a background check amongst other requirements.  He also talked, however, about increased border enforcement.


The news for the immigrant rights community is a bit mixed.  On the one hand, we’re pretty stoked that millions of members of this community will now be able to more fully participate in society without having to worry about being detained in one of the GEO Groups for-profit hellhole prisons for years before they even get a hearing.  On the other, however, it also left out millions who will face more enforcement from those angered by Obama’s policy.

How will the GOP handle it?  Probably not well.

To be sure, there are anti-immigrant politicians amongst the Democrats, however, hands-down the vast majority of the anti-immigrant crazy is on the conservative end of the aisle.  If there’s one thing that our less-rational legislators have become quite adept at, it’s grabbing cameras to criticize Obama.  For them, especially those from safely-gerrymandered districts with no real general election challenges or incentive to hold back, this will be the biggest media feeding frenzy since they stopped trying to repeal Obamacare every week.

This move was heavily telegraphed by the Administration.  Although Obama may have backed off from his earlier promise of an immigration reform before the end of the summer, he was quick to double down on doing this before the end of the year after elections:

“Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system,” said Obama.

Since then, while the GOP leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was quick to denounce impeachment, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was not.  In fact, there has been little restraint, with words like “lawsuit,” “impeachment” and “government shutdown” being tossed around as though they were nothing.

My suggestion to the Administration: make this as big a public issue as possible to give Ted Cruz (R-TX) enough rope to hang his entire party brand with in time for 2016, an election Latinos will show up to in numbers.

The wiser, more moderate members of the GOP may stay quiet like they did during DACA.  There will predictably be some, most likely Ted Cruz, Steve King (R-IA) and a few others with Tea Party bases, that won’t: they will bring strongly hyperbolic rhetoric that will offend many to the media in order to earn a bit of credit with their off-year primary crowd; expect them to say “King Obama” often, and denounce his lawless lawlessness.

This will harm some members of their own party that will face a much more diverse electorate than the one that just handed them their victory earlier this month.  In addition, the House votes to impeach, but they need the Senate to vote for it with a two-thirds majority to convict.

The GOP has a narrow majority in the Senate, and McConnell has already gone on record saying he wouldn’t impeach.  If Boehner actually allows a vote on impeachment, it’s doomed from the start, but Boehner has allowed himself to be ragdolled by the Tea Party so many times he may just play the doormat again.

While it is too soon to tell what exactly the implications of this executive order will be until it starts being implemented, it is not too soon to see who is gnashing their teeth over this.  Expect for there to be political lines drawn early which will affect the way politics play out for the next year or so.

About The Author

Ryan Campbell
Communications Director

Ryan Campbell is a graduate of CUNY School of Law, Author of "Chasing Romney: How Mitt Romney Lost the Latino Vote," Co-Founder of DRM Capitol Group and editor for DRM Action Coalition

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