Republicans Complaining About President Obama’s Immigration Action Have It Backwards
We wrote last night about why President Obama’s announcement on immigration is such an important move. The only way to fix our broken immigration system once and for all is for Congress to work together to pass bipartisan legislation. But until then, the president is right to take whatever steps he can within his legal authority to begin solving this problem. The president’s actions prioritize our enforcement, putting the focus on felons, not families. These measures will strengthen our national security, our public safety, and our economy. And they are supported by two-thirds of Americans.
Again, this is not a permanent solution. Only Congress can do that. But, House Republicans don’t seem like they want to act – even though the Senate passed a bipartisan bill more than 500 days ago. Instead they want to play politics and accuse the President of overreach, despite the fact that he is just doing his job and the actions he took are consistent with previous presidents, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Both Boehner and income Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have warned that the President’s actions “poison the well” for comprehensive reform. Here are some other instances of conservative fear-mongering:
- Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), McConnell’s second-in-command, claimed that the President was “provoking a constitutional crisis.”
- Arch-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn said “you could see instances of anarchy … [or] violence” as a result of the executive action.
- Anti-immigrant Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach actually claimed that granting temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants could lead to ethnic cleansing and socialism.
However, all of these allegations of Obama ruining good-faith efforts to compromise would be more credible if they were not part of the exact same playbook his opponents have used numerous times before:
- Both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said that Obama “poisoned the well” by issuing his 2012 action on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) warned that if Obama took any credit for the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform principles, “it certainly would poison the well with a lot of Republicans.”
- Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested last year that President Obama’s support for overwhelmingly popular gun safety policies “poisoned the well” with the GOP to get anything done on the issue.
- An anonymous Republican leadership aide said that the shutdown fight “poisoned the well” for working together on any issue, including comprehensive immigration reform.
Really, it’s Republicans who have poisoned the well. Rather than running on a real agenda for the future of America, their entire message was being against Obama. Before and after the election, they swore up and down how they would refuse to compromise with the President. Before the 2014 campaign was even over, McConnell promised prominent Republican donors that he would “thwart the Obama agenda” as majority leader. Meanwhile, hours after the 2014 election ended, Sen. Ted Cruz repeated his vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, moments after claiming he was ready to compromise with the President.
BOTTOM LINE: The GOP can try and repeat the same tired criticism that President Obama’s latest move has “poisoned the well,” but they have it backwards. President Obama took necessary executive action on immigration because House Republicans refused to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill – and because the GOP has refused to compromise at every step of his presidency.