Obama delays amnesty decision until after elections
President Obama let it be known yesterday that his decision to grant a sweeping amnesty to millions of illegal aliens will be delayed unti after the November mid term elections.
Speaker of the House John Boehner called it "raw politics," and that's about the best you can say about it. In fact, the decision was a cynical betrayal and directly contravened a promise made by the president to his loyal, Hispanic base that he would decide the issue "before the end of summer."
It is rare - at least, for most other presidents - that a president so obviously, and blatantly, renegs on a promise. For President Obama, it has become commonplace. Here's immigration activist Frank Sharry:
"We are bitterly disappointed in the president and we are bitterly disappointed in the Senate Democrats," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice. "We advocates didn't make the reform promise; we just made the mistake of believing it. The president and Senate Democrats have chosen politics over people, the status quo over solving real problems."
In defending the delay, the president said that the surge of illegal children crossing the border - something he's known about for 2 years - is to blame for puttng off the decision.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that the surge of immigrant children entering the U.S. illegally changed the politics surrounding the issue of immigration and led him to put off a pledge to use executive action that could shield millions of people from deportation.
Immigration reform advocates criticized Obama after White House officials said that the president would not act at summer's end as he promised in June but would take up the matter after the midterm elections in November. In an interview taped for NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama rejected the charge that the delay was meant to protect Democratic candidates worried that his actions would hurt their prospects in tough Senate races.
By Obama's own calculations, politics did play a role in his decision. In his remarks to NBC, which were to be aired on Sunday, he said a partisan fight in July over how to address an influx of unaccompanied minors at the border had created the impression that there was an immigration crisis and thus a volatile climate for taking the measures he had promised to take.
"The truth of the matter is — is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem," he said. "I want to spend some time, even as we're getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we're doing this, why it's the right thing for the American people, why it's the right thing for the American economy."
Reflecting the passion behind the threat of deportations, immigration advocacy groups that have criticized Republicans for not passing an immigration overhaul instantly turned their anger on Obama.
Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, said the decision was "another slap to the face of the Latino and immigrant community."
"Where we have demanded leadership and courage from both Democrats and the president, we've received nothing but broken promises and a lack of political backbone," she said.
In truth, the illegal alien children are just a whipping boy for the real reason the president is delaying the decision; avoiding a slaughter of Democratic Senate candidates at the ballot box.
By putting off amnesty, the president preserves the slim chance that Democrats can hold on to the Senate, although recent events have boosted their prospects a bit. In a series of meetings with Senate Democrats over the last fortnight, it became clear that not only vulnerable candidates like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Begich of Alaska opposed a pre-election announcement, but also other Senate candidates who were considered relatively safe but would be in trouble if amnesty were a campaign issue. Majority Leader Harry Reid was publicly non-committal but was thought to also support a delay.
Obama's decision shows just how desperate the Democrats are and how fragile their hold on a Senate majority is less than 2 months from election day.