Immigration: The Two Year View

Republicans, rightly, point to jobs and the economy as a key messages sent by voters in the mid-term election. That message, however, is being buried by the flap over threatened executive action on immigration.

It feels like a trap; it feels like the Republicans are falling into that trap but the Democrats could easily be trapped as well.

We don’t actually know what the President is going to do. Given his history it could be pure political messaging absent a significant impact on the immigration issue. If, for instance, he orders that deportations cease for certain classes of illegal immigrants that we’re not deporting anyway it’s imagery without consequence. The fact is that we already have de facto amnesty based on the President’s unwillingness to enforce laws on the books now and Attorney General Holder’s acquiescence to that policy.

Republicans, if they did indeed hear the electorate, should not be talking about anything other than jobs, the economy and the rejection of the President and his party in the last election. What happened, however, was an immediate set of countervailing threats from Republican leadership over the immigration issue; the issue has been kept alive by the significant resources available to the administration and their media cronies as well as Conservative media howling in opposition. The President’s threat feels less like a policy decision than childish taunting. The Republicans have, typically, risen to the President’s bait; they should be taking a longer view, a two year longer view.

If jobs and the economy are the top issues Republicans must connect immigration reform by executive order to those issues. Republicans must stop chasing after the “shiny things” the President dangles in front of them and stay on the discipline of voter priorities.

Republicans must envision the political impact that the executive order could have on Democrats over the next two years. “Mrs. Clinton did you agree with the President’s executive order on immigration?” “Do you believe he overstepped his Constitutional powers?” “Will you take a similar approach?” Those same questions apply to all who support government by executive order. (So long, of course, as it’s “their guy” doing it.)