President Obama said he was willing to work with Congress to pass a immigration reform, but chalk that up as another broken promise.
During primetime tonight he will announce unilateral executive action on his immigration reform plan. This comes just two weeks after Americans sent the President and Congress a clear message that they want action from Capitol Hill, not the White House.
Instead of waiting until a new Republican-led Congress is sworn in January, the President will lay out his executive order on a wide range of issues related to illegal immigration. President Obama is expected to dramatically expand his deferred action program, allowing the parents of children who are legal residents or citizens of the United States to avoid deportation proceedings and receive work permits. He could also expand the eligibility for people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country and work. In addition, he is poised to expand how the federal government issues specialty visas for high-tech workers. In total, an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants could be eligible to stay here.
The President huddled in his corner of the ring with Senate and House Democrats during a dinner on Wednesday night where he let them in on his strategy right before informing Republicans and the rest of America that, yes, he is going to take unilateral action on immigration that may far exceed his constitutional powers.
What signal is the President sending: I want a fight. The President is picking a fight with the GOP over immigration and funding. His actions are meant to stir up partisan animosity and even greater discord in our political culture.
Congressional Republicans are notably outraged over what might be considered an unconstitutional cheap shot. Congress will be leaving Washington for Thanksgiving recess today, and members of Congress say he deliberately delayed the timing of his announcement for when he knows the halls of Capitol Hill will be empty.
The Hill reports:
Republicans on Capitol Hill began to lash out at President Obama Wednesday after he announced plans to unveil executive actions on immigration in a primetime address Thursday evening.
“The president is throwing this nation into a crisis and we have an obligation to do our duty, here, and in the Senate,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told reporters.
King laid out three steps the House could take to respond to Obama, including a resolution of rejection, censuring Obama and defunding the order to prevent its implementation. He stopped short of supporting impeachment.
“I don’t want to go down that path. We have lived through that and it put the nation through a lot of trauma,” he added.
Some Republicans expressed frustration that Obama invited only Senate and House Democrats to dinner Wednesday evening to huddle before the announcement.
This White House (like most White Houses) likes to dump bad news on Fridays, when it will get less coverage. But I can’t help wondering if the White House is pleased that three major networks have no plans to cancel their Thursday night primetime programming for the president’s ABC, CBS, and FOX will not be interrupting their ratings juggernaut shows including the mid-season finale of NBC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC's “Biggest Loser” or FOX’s “Bones.” The White House is downplaying this lack of major coverage though.
Spanish channels are expected to interrupt their programming, including the Latin Grammys—and perhaps that is the real audience the President wants to see the speech anyway.
With November being sweeps month, the networks probably saw more value in popular programming than more words from the loquacious President. But this is an important speech and, painful though it may be for lovers of the Constitution, it is a historic moment.
The pummeling that Democrats took in the midterms has only embittered President Obama and emboldened him to push ahead with his agenda. With nothing to lose, he is going to provide us with an interesting two years.