Jim Clark: Obama’s immigration reform, and the GOP response
After six long years, President Obama finally delivered on his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
Actually, only “semi-comprehensive.” It will exempt from deportation about 5 million undocumented aliens who meet certain criteria, but it does nothing for another estimated 6 to 8 million within our borders. Still, to those benefitted, half a loaf is better than none.
Conservative reaction was predictable. Fox News began airing vignettes of previous Obama speeches in which he tells audiences that he does not have legal authority to issue such an executive order. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader elect McConnell claimed that the action was unconstitutional.
Legal immigrants weren’t too happy about the measure either. Arizona State Legislator Steve Montenegro (Republican), who attained legal status after emigrating from El Salvador, said: “This is … a slap in the face to (legal) immigrants telling (them) ‘you should have broken the law,’”
A Rassmussen poll shows that 68 percent of Americans do not believe illegal immigrants should have legal rights and just 19 percent who do.
Fox News should have heeded Pundit Charles Krauthammer who as early as 2009 said: “Don’t pay any attention to what Obama says; watch what he does.”
As to Constitutionality, you can get opinions on both sides of the issue, so it is not clear-cut. To Obama, that means go ahead and do it. The concerns of Americans, including legal immigrants, are probably of no concern to Obama because he will never be on a ballot again. So what happens now?
The Wall Street Journal had some good advice: “We hope Republicans don’t fall for (Obama’s) political trap. He and many Democrats want Republicans to appear to be anti-immigrant. They want the GOP to dance to the (Congressman) Steve King-(Senator) Jeff Sessions blow-a-gasket caucus.”
Speaking as a Nevadan, I think the Journal is right. Spain and then Mexico have a long history and culture in America, even after we stole the southwest from them at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Nevada also has “enlightened” elected officials, including Republican Senator Dean Heller, who voted in favor of the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Bill, and Republican Congressman Mark Amodei, who hosts quarterly breakfasts for local Latino businessmen and women.
Both recognize that irrespective of citizenship over 25 percent of their constituents are Latinos.
However, because of the “King-Sessions caucus” it will be difficult for the incoming GOP Congress to appear to be acting in the nation’s interests.
Obama has been taunting Republicans with the immigration red flag since 2012 when he issued his “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals” executive order.
He continued taunting by threatening to issue the current executive order, bending under pressure from Democrats running for reelection to postpone it until after the 2014 midterm elections.
Obviously that didn’t do Democrats much good, so Obama dropped the hammer.
The courts are reluctant to jump into the squabble between the Administration and Congress over Constitutional authority and in any case it would take years to get to the Supreme Court for a decision. So what to do?
Congress could pass piecemeal immigration bills that nullify parts of the executive order. For example, they could create a larger and less regulated guest worker program for migrants of all skill levels thereby eliminating incentives for future illegal immigration.
They could increase the number of H1b visas, something Obama left out, thereby creating more jobs. There are a number of additional positive actions a GOP-controlled Congress could take which would be very difficult for Obama to justify vetoing.
Or, they could collectively turn red in the face and continue screaming about Constitutionality, Obama’s prior inconsistent statements, and other related issues which are pretty much irrelevant to the voting public.
Now is the time for the GOP to choose the cards it wants to play in the 2016 election.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.