On Friday, President Obama held a press conference to announce some of the outcomes of the just-completed NATO summit in Wales, especially with regard to the situations in Ukraine and ISIS-ravaged Iraq and Syria. These mostly consisted of extensions of actions that are ongoing, such as the building of a regional and international coalition to fight ISIS, as well as imminent sectoral sanctions against Russia with regard to Ukraine. The President did repeatedly echo his prior assertion that the objective in Iraq and Syria is to “destroy and degrade” ISIS, with the disclaimer that there may be remnants when we’re done, so don’t be dicks.
For his last question, though, the President addressed reports that he may put off executive action on immigration until after the midterms. For several weeks now, genius Democrats have been complaining that the President’s promised action on immigration could energize conservatives for the midterms, and asking him to delay. This will obviously be a help, because conservatives are pretty calm about it now. This is the same loser mentality that caused Democrats to be crushed in 2010, the idea that somehow, hiding their differences with Republicans would make them invisible to conservative voters. The premise is even dumber this time, because while they can’t possibly hide from the rabid anti-immigrant conservative base, selling out immigration will repel any and all gains they could hope to make with the Democratic base.
Earlier in the week, it sounded as though the White House might be taking this advice, from loser Democrats to a President who has won twice, to heart. White House Press Secretary Josh earnest flatly refused to comment on the timing of the announcement last Friday, but on Monday, seemed to be floating a trial balloon for delay:
There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer, there is the chance that it could be after the summer.
At Friday’s presser, the President was asked about those concerns, and while the President didn’t give a date certain for an announcement, his response indicated that the delay has had more to do with world events than political concerns.
“I have to tell you, this week, I have been pretty busy,” the President said, but added that “Jeh Johnson and Eric Holder have begun to provide me some of those proposals and recommendations,” and that “fairly soon, I will be considering what the next steps are.”
Again, the President didn’t exactly give a date, but said he’d likely be reviewing those recommendations “on my flight back,” which is tonight, and “will make an announcement soon.”
“I want to be clear. My intention is, in the absence of action by Congress, I’m going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office, because it is the right thing to do for the country.”
This is roughly in line with what he said in June, when he said he expected recommendations from Johnson and Holder “before the end of the summer,” and added “I intend to adopt the recommendations without further delay.”
So, taking all of this together, it sounds like the President will be making an announcement on immigration action very soon, certainly before the midterms, which is definitely the right move. the conservative base can’t possibly turn out any more forcefully than they’re already going to, they might just mutter “dirty immigrants” a little louder when they pull that lever in November. On the other hand, a further-unhinged group of Republican candidates can only benefit Democrats.
Why is it, then, that every other reporter and commentator who heard what the President said today is insisting that it means he will wait until after the midterms? That’s a good question, because they’re the same reporters and commentators who have been publishing political leaks to the same effect for weeks. Everyone seems very invested in providing pressure, and cover, for the White House to mollify Republicans and delay the announcement. It’s almost like they want to be able to write stories about that, and not the sure-to-be-epic fallout from the President’s executive actions.
Update: Or not. Head, meet desk. The President confirmed, on Sunday’s Meet the Press, that he will delay executive action on immigration until after the midterms.
I’m going to go to immigration. You made a decision to delay any executive action until after the election. What do you tell the person that’s going to get deported before the election that this decision was essentially made in your hopes of saving a Democratic Senate?
Well, that’s not the reason. A couple of things that I want to say about immigration. Number one, I have been consistent about why this is important. The country’s going to be better off if we have an immigration system that works. That has strong border security, that has streamlined our legal immigration system. So the best and the brightest who want to stay here and invest her and create jobs here can do so.
That families can be unified, and that a system where the millions of people who are here in many cases for a decade or more, who have American kids, who are neighbors, who oftentimes are our friends, that they have a path to get legal by paying taxes, and getting above board, paying a fine, learning English if they have to.
So the good news is, we have bipartisan support for that. We have a Senate bill that would accomplish that. The House Republicans refuse to do it. And what I said to them was, “If you do not act on something that’s so common sense that you’ve got labor, business, evangelicals, law enforcement, you’ve got folks across the board supporting it, then I’m going to look for all the legal authorities I have to act.” I want to make sure we get it right. I want to make sure, number one, that all the T’s are crossed.
Looks like politics. I mean, it looks like election-year politics.
Not only do I want to make sure that the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted, but here’s the other thing, Chuck, and I’m being honest now, about the politics of it. This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a couple weeks ago, where you had from Central America a surge of kids who are showing up at the border, got a lot of attention. And a lot of Americans started thinking, “We’ve got this immigration crisis on our hands.” And what I want to do is when I take executive action, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable. I want to make sure that–
But the public’s not behind you.
No, no, no, no.
Are you concerned the public wouldn’t support what you did?
What I’m saying is that I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country. But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.