The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama has decided to break his promise to immigration advocates and hold off on any executive action on amnesty until after the midterm elections.
The ditherer-in chief-probably could have gotten away with his executive orders having minimal impact on the midterms if he had decided in the spring to amnesty millions of illegal aliens. But now, less than two months from the elections, such a move would likely lead to a slaughter of vulnerable Senate Democrats and perhaps even the loss of some seats thought relatively safe. The delay was realistically the only chance Democrats had of keeping hope alive to remain in control of the upper body.
Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.
The move instantly infuriated immigration advocates while offering relief to some vulnerable Democrats in tough Senate re-election contests.
Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s decision before it was announced, said Obama made his decision Friday as he returned to Washington from a NATO summit in Wales.
They said Obama called a few allies from Air Force One to inform them of his decision, and that the president made more calls from the White House on Saturday.
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.
In a Rose Garden speech on June 30, Obama said he had directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to give him recommendations for executive action by the end of summer. Obama also pledged to “adopt those recommendations without further delay.”
Obama faced competing pressures from immigration advocacy groups that wanted prompt action and from Democrats worried that acting now would energize Republican opposition against vulnerable Senate Democrats. Among those considered most at risk were Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
Obama advisers were not convinced that any presidential action would affect the elections. But the officials said the discussions around timing grew more pronounced within the past few weeks.
Ultimately, the advisers drew a lesson from 1994 when Democratic losses were blamed on votes for gun-control legislation, undermining any interest in passing future gun measures.
White House officials said aides realized that if Obama’s immigration action was deemed responsible for Democratic losses this year, it could hurt any attempt to pass a broad overhaul later on.
Immigration advocates blasted Obama and Senate Democrats over the decision, saying both have shown a lack of political will.
Mitch McConnell summed up the political dilemma for Republicans perfectly:
What’s so cynical about today’s immigration announcement is that the president isn’t saying he’ll follow the law, he’s just saying he’ll go around the law once it’s too late for Americans to hold his party accountable in the November elections.
Republicans on the hustings can’t go out and charge the president with planning unilateral amnesty for millions of illegals because he can always say he hasn’t decided yet, or some other dodge. The president has effectively checked the Republicans on immigration as a campaign issue, although border security remains a big problem for Democrats.
As for immigration advocates, they are getting what they deserve. They trusted the most untrustworthy president in recent memory and look what it got them:
“We are bitterly disappointed in the president and we are bitterly disappointed in the Senate Democrats,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “We advocates didn’t make the reform promise; we just made the mistake of believing it.
Will this depress Hispanic turnout in November? Past off-year elections have shown low participation by Hispanics, so it is unlikely that the president’s decision will materially affect the outcome. But it certainly puts a dent in the president’s plans to goose turnout among his base followers, hoping that blacks, the young, single women, and other minorities could ride to the rescue and save his Senate majority.
I think GOP chances to take the Senate just improved markedly.