Is Delaying Executive Action On Immigration A Smart Move?

By Reuben S. Seguritan

September 17, 2014

President Obama wouldn’t be taking any executive action on immigration soon after the end of summer as promised. He will wait until after the midterm elections in November before he acts on immigration on his own. The President “believes it would be harmful” to his immigration policy if he were to announce administrative action before that time.

The President’s announcement has infuriated many immigrant rights advocates. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Services Employees International Union, said that “The White House’s decision to delay executive action forces countless families to continue to wait in the shadows of fear.”

This is the second time that the President moved his timetable to deal with immigration. Earlier this year, the President postponed the release of the results Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s review of the deportation policies to give Congress the chance to act on immigration.

House Republican leaders, however, continued to refuse to vote on the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate on June 27, 2013 and refused to make an effort to come up with their own version of the bill. The inaction of the GOP pressed the President to make his announcement last June that he would unilaterally act soon after the end of the summer.

White House officials have concluded that any Presidential action on immigration before the midterm elections could anger conservatives across the nation and contribute to the loss of vulnerable Democrats in the House and Senate.

Although many immigrant rights advocates were disappointed with the delay, they recognize that any hope for a permanent legislative fix to the broken immigration system would diminish if Republicans take control of the Senate. They expect Republicans to undertake immense efforts to attack and invalidate President Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Also, the surge of unaccompanied young children crossing the border diminished public support for immigration reform. Putting off the President’s executive action until after the midterm elections would give the administration time to work on the policy and clarify the change to the public.

Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), for his part, criticized the President’s decision saying, “The decision to simply delay this deeply controversial and possibly unconstitutional unilateral action until after the elections – instead of abandoning the idea altogether – smacks of raw politics.”

Meanwhile, White House officials confirmed that the “bulk of work” has been completed and that “the [remaining] work will be done in sufficient time for the President to make an announcement before the end of the year.”

The President plans to go “as far as he can under the law” to deal with immigration. One of the measures the President is reportedly studying is the grant of temporary relief from deportation to a significant number of the 11 million undocumented.

The balance of power in Congress may or may not change come midterm elections. Whatever the outcome, the President will have to remain true to his word to provide a solution to immigration by the end of this year.