Why Obama Really Delayed Immigration Action Until After the Election

Former Bush administration deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo writes that President Obama delayed his unilateral immigration amnesty because even he realizes that he’s on shaky constitutional ground.


If only that were the case. If only President Barack Obama cared about the constitutional grounds, or lack thereof, for anything that he does. If only he had the principles required to see the line he is about to cross and, for the good of the republic, decide not to cross it.

The fact is, Obama’s delay is purely political. It has nothing to do with any other principle than that.

Last week, several vulnerable Democrats came out of the woodwork to oppose Obama’s plan. I wrote then:

The way to bet right now is that Obama makes more promises to placate the immigration groups, and delays moving until after the election, while he continues not securing the border. At that time, probably the day or two after the election, he hits with an even bigger power grab than he has threatened before. Or, he does nothing at all. It’s a go big or go home moment for him. Chances are, he goes big. The Republicans will have taken both houses of Congress, and Obama will want to get going on the constitutional crisis early.

If Obama moves now, he scrambles the mid-terms, which he wants to do, but may end up costing the Democrats even more seats than they currently stand to lose. The party shares the blame for what is a deeply unpopular action.


After the election, Congress will be in a lame-duck session. The new Republicans will not be seated yet, and will not control Congress yet. The defeated Democrats will be on their way out, and will not care.

That’s the perfect moment for Obama to strike, claim all of the credit from the far left, and set up the Republicans to open up the next Congress weighing whether to discipline Obama or not. He loves the optics of a Republican Congress going after the first black president. He also loves the optics of the Republicans electing to do nothing, to avoid those optics created by going after him. Obama is setting up a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation.

It has nothing to do with constitutional principle. It has everything to do with politics.



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