Monday, September 8, 2014

He'll still write a lawless deportation rule—but not until after November.

Obama's Immigration Cynicism


So President Obama says he still plans to unilaterally rewrite immigration law—but not until after the election so he can spare Democrats in Congress from the wrath of voters for doing so. And he wonders why Americans are cynical about politics?

White House leakers are saying that Mr. Obama wants to fulfill his June pledge to issue a lawless regulation limiting deportations for millions of illegal immigrants. But he has decided to bow to incumbent Democrats who fear a political backlash that could hand Republicans Senate control in November. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and even Al Franken, the Minnesota hyper-liberal, have begged Mr. Obama to delay.

"And you know, the truth of the matter is—is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem," Mr. Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, referring to the rush of Central American children seeking U.S. asylum at the border. "I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the American economy."

He added: "And what I want to do is, when I take executive action, I want to make sure that it's sustainable."

A one-man diktat timed to avoid democratic accountability is the opposite of sustainable. It is guaranteed to promote more political strife and polarization. And it will make a bipartisan compromise on immigration less likely by playing into the hands of the GOP restrictionists.

Given Mr. Obama's track record, that may be his intention. In 2012 he unilaterally rewrote the law to block deportations of immigrants who were brought here illegally as children through no fault of their own. He then used the issue against the flat-footed Mitt Romney. But Mr. Obama's executive action made it harder for pro-immigration Republicans in this Congress to ratify even that small reform because conservatives argued that Mr. Obama would refuse to obey any immigration enforcement they passed along with it.

Mr. Obama may be trying something similar now with a goal of electing a Democratic successor in 2016. His delay might spare red-state Democrats from voter accountability. But his unilateral action after November would further inflame the restrictionist right, make a bipartisan compromise less likely no matter which party controls the Senate next year, and divide Republicans over how to handle millions of illegal immigrants who Mr. Obama has decreed can stay.

These columns supported generous immigration long before Mr. Obama was born, and we have continued to do so throughout his Presidency despite the restrictionist turn on much of the right. But the way to overcome such political opposition is by building a bipartisan coalition of the kind that has passed nearly all durable American legislation.

Mr. Obama seems incapable of such persuasion and compromise. He was able to pass his stimulus and ObamaCare bills only because he had a rare Democratic supermajority, but in the process he caused a backlash that helped Republicans pick up a modern record of 63 House seats in 2010. He has since sunk ever-deeper into his liberal foxhole. The result has been a second term without a notable domestic accomplishment.

It's hard to remember now, but this is the same man who ran for office in 2008 promising a new era of political comity. If he follows through on his immigration ploy, he will leave behind a country even more polarized and cynical.

Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal

Ben Ferro

benferro@insideins.com