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Obama’s Expected Immigration Action Stokes Republican Fury

McClatchy Tribune News Service Politics

Obama’s Expected Immigration Action Stokes Republican Fury


By Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Rising Republican hostility toward President Barack Obama’s impending immigration plan is as intense as has ever existed between the White House and the GOP.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio says the president’s executive action — expected to be announced Thursday — will “poison the well” for cooperation with the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky compared it to “waving a red flag in front of a bull.” Tea party conservatives have renewed talk of censuring or impeaching the president.

But the strong reaction by Republican leaders has less to do with opposition to the nuts and bolts of the president’s immigration policy and more to do with fear and anger that the issue will derail the agenda of the new Republican majority before the next Congress even convenes.

Republican leaders who had hoped to focus on corporate tax reform, fast-track trade pacts, repealing the president’s health care law and loosening environmental restrictions on coal are instead being dragged into an immigration skirmish that they’ve tried studiously to avoid for most of the last year.

That’s largely because the question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. bitterly divides Republicans, and the party has been unable to agree on an alternative to the president’s plan.

To many, stark warnings from Boehner and McConnell sound more like pleas to the president to avoid re-energizing the GOP’s conservative wing, whose leaders are already threatening to link the president’s immigration plan to upcoming budget talks.

Another government shutdown is not what McConnell and Boehner had in mind when their party won control of Congress this month.

In fact, McConnell said flatly a day after the election that another shutdown would not happen. But calls by firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to use “all procedural means necessary” during Congress’ lame-duck session to block the White House’s immigration plans have left leaders scrambling to tame their rebellious ranks.

Republican leaders are increasingly concerned that if Obama follows through, the anti-immigrant fervor in their party will rise to an unappealing crescendo and the rank-and-file’s desire to confront the president will overtake other party priorities.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — one of the harshest critics of Obama’s program that defers deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — said he canceled plans to return to his district Thursday night as soon as he heard the president would be making an announcement.

Although King said he wanted to see the full details of the president’s plan, he said Republicans should respond by passing a resolution of disapproval of the new policy, censuring the president and cutting off funding to enforce the policy. He did not rule out impeachment.

“I don’t want to go down that path, because we have lived through that and it puts the nation through a lot of drama,” King said. “But it is the president who is initiating these actions.”

GOP leaders’ concerns about getting distracted by immigration are shared by the business community and outside groups that bankrolled the party’s recent electoral success. High hopes that the new Republican Congress would tackle economic and business issues could be dashed if the party were goaded into an immigration fight.

“We’re urging Republicans, whatever happens on immigration, let’s also stay focused,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, which is aligned with the billionaire Koch brothers and spent millions in the midterm campaign supporting Republican candidates for Congress. The group has not taken a position on immigration.

“We just want to make sure this economic agenda is not lost, because there’s an enormous opportunity next year with Republicans who control the Senate and the House to … pass significant legislation,” Phillips said.

Opponents of Obama’s impending executive action want Congress to rescind funds for his immigration programs or use the upcoming government spending bill to block what they see as amnesty for millions of immigrants who would no longer be a priority for deportation.

Some Republican lawmakers want to approve only a series of short-term spending bills, so they can revisit the issue every few months and maintain some leverage over the White House. But GOP leaders worry the tactic will bog down the new Congress in an endless immigration fight and bring back the shutdown politics that badly bruised the party’s image last year.

“It’s always appropriate to use the power of the purse, but it’s important to remember that the president has an important trump card: It’s called the veto pen,” McConnell said Tuesday. “We’re not going to be able to get everything exactly the way we want it, and he’s not going to be able to get everything exactly the way he wants it. That’s why we have compromise.”

The president’s expected announcement Thursday leaves Republican leaders with little time to contain the fallout before the Dec. 11 deadline to approve new funding to keep the government operating.

One solution would be for Republicans to produce their own immigration bill to counter Obama’s approach. That would accomplish two key party goals heading into the 2016 presidential election: help the party reach out to minority voters it needs to win the White House and show Americans the GOP can get Washington working again.

But that is unlikely to happen. Although some lawmakers are quietly working on compromise immigration legislation, there are no immediate plans to bring those proposals forward amid deep differences in the Republican Party. A bipartisan immigration bill passed the Senate last year, but the GOP-controlled House refused to act on it.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a Boehner ally, accused Obama of intentionally trying to provoke a fight with the new Republican Congress.

“I’m mystified by the political calculation,” he said. “There’s a new Congress coming in. Why would you do this on the eve of Thanksgiving going into the holiday unless you just want to create a political crisis?”

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr



  1. Stuart November 20, 2014

    I just realized it’s easier to impeach a president than to override a veto. Founders’ thinking, anyone?

    1. JPHALL November 20, 2014

      But the political will to impeach is not there. The threat is a mere power play.

  2. 1standlastword November 20, 2014

    “But the strong reaction by Republican leaders has less to do with opposition to the nuts and bolts of the president’s immigration policy and more to do with fear and anger that the issue will derail the agenda of the new Republican majority before the next Congress even convenes.”

    They want Obama to dance to a waltz and he changed the music to a tango. There are a plethora of legitimate reasons as to why it is the just and fair thing to do for Obama to use his executive authority, especially now.

    The republican illegality claim is false, they know it…(maybe not the Tea Partiers), I know it, you all know it. That is why the smart guys in the party say it will poison the well or excite the bull.

    The uses of procedural dissention, deferred action and temporary reprieve are legal half measures used by past presidents but never on this scale with such portent for future elections.

    Moreover, Boehner said recently that the president has the authority to go without congress…is this evidence of alcoholic amnesia Mr. Boehner or perhaps just more games!

    And lastly, Obama campaigned on comprehensive immigration reform and he has endured 6 years of patient waiting and that has frustrated a growing sector of the electorate and made Obama look like a patzer–until now!

    1. charleo1 November 20, 2014

      I liked that! A lot! Exactly spot on! The T-Party ignoramuses, who torpedoed the Senate Bill, in the House, will do nothing the entire next year, but pitch a colossal hissy fit over immigration. They’ll shut down the government, create another crisis over the debt limit, hold one farcical investigation after the next. Refuse to allow judges to be seated, refuse to appoint an Attorney General, insist impeachment hearings be held. In short make total asses out of themselves. Or, I should say, show extremely plainly, the asses they are. And the bigots most of them are. This could be really fun! Er…Ah.. I mean a total embarrassment for the Grand Old Plutocrats.

      1. 1standlastword November 20, 2014

        Obama’s intention is to free honest, good natured hard working people from the threat of deportation with a pathway to citizenship and the republican response is to take American citizens hostage by breaking the government that is here to serve us. Even if “some” people don’t like Obama or what he has done they have to see the wrong in the republican threats. My fear is the minority that gave them their majority will not see it and direct their anger at Obama for a republican response that punishes them. That will prove to me that when hate goes up IQ goes down

        1. charleo1 November 20, 2014

          That could happen. As you say, IQ falls, as anger rises. But, that kind of anger doesn’t represent the majority of Americans. I’m sure it doesn’t. President Obama, in taking these discretionary actions, were more of a declaration of the position of the Democratic Party, on the issue of immigration than anything else. As the next President could change them, with the same authority as he used to enact them. So, it was also a case of a President, failing to persuade a Congress to do, what he truly believes is the right thing to do. Then, seeing that Congress was not up to the task. And assessing it was not going to be, any time soon. Did as much of the right thing, as his office allowed. Of course the Right Wing will raise all kinds of Hell. Continuing to dig the already fathomless pit with Latinos, and other minorities, they’ve been working hard on for the last several years. Once again proving the IQ, and anger theory is as true as ever. And he really didn’t move the marker very far at all. But, he did move it. And history has a way of turning on those small, but unmistakably understood acts of champions. Who are willing to suffer the howls of the Cretans, for their actions taken on behalf of the powerless.

          1. 1standlastword November 21, 2014

            When will the GOP run out of tricks??! As the old song goes….I wanna be around

    2. itsfun November 21, 2014

      The first 2 years of his administration the Democrats controlled both Houses. Why couldn’t he get this through then? Maybe because the American people don’t want this. But since when did Obama care about what the American people want?

      1. jmprint November 21, 2014


      2. johninPCFL November 21, 2014

        Sorry, because of deaths and illnesses, the Congress was only Democratically controlled for a few weeks during those two years, and then only when both “Independent” Senators voted with them.

        1. itsfun November 21, 2014

          They had complete control. Also in 2008 in his campaign Obama promised to send a bill to Congress about immigration. He didn’t do that. He didn’t keep his word on that either. He only does and says things to get votes, not to help anyone. That man cannot be trusted any further then you can throw the white house.

          1. 1standlastword November 21, 2014

            Fun…Read the speech. The history of his doings on immigration are all laid out there.


  3. James Bowen November 20, 2014

    This must be stopped. Call your members of Congress and tell them to support a short term spending bill so this can be defunded when the new Congress takes over. Defunding need not risk a shutdown. Separate appropriations bills can be made for each department and agency, and the DHS bill only would contain the defunding language. That way, if the President vetoes it, only DHS gets shut down, which is practically the case already since they are not allowed to enforce immigration laws. The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

    1. JPHALL November 20, 2014

      Just pass an immigration bill like Bush II tried to do. Fix the problem. We all know that no US government is actually going to deport 11+ million people.

      1. 1standlastword November 20, 2014

        He’s an activist. He needs to do this

        1. DAK27 November 21, 2014

          If by “He’s an activist” you mean Obama, then no. He is the President.

      2. James Bowen November 20, 2014

        We don’t know that. After all, it has happened before. Eisenhower deported three million in three months with only 1000 INS agents. It would not be difficult to scale that up to 12 million.

        The only immigration bill Congress should pass in one that reduces legal immigration by more that 90%, cracks down on illegal immigration, and eliminates most guest worker programs.

        1. highpckts November 21, 2014

          I could just scream!! Did anyone on here even listen to the speech last nite? Geezus! the President explained all of it and that mass deportation is unfeasable and expensive! Anyone that came here illegally after 2010 will be deported and that’s not just those hated Mexicans! You guys are amazing. Critiquing a speech that you didn’t even hear or read about! How sad that that is how opinions are formed! Hearsay!!

          1. James Bowen November 21, 2014

            It is not infeasible. Eisenhower deported three million in three months with only 1000 agents. Considering that the Army could in principle be put to work doing this, it would not even be that difficult to round them up and ship them out. Maybe it would be expensive, but not nearly as expensive as allowing them to stay here for the rest of their lives, let alone the millions more who would follow when the see we are not serious about enforcing our laws.

            That being said, there is no need for massive roundups. All that is needed is to enforce the laws in the workplace (mandatory E-Verify, SSN-No Matching, harsh employer sanctions, etc.) and take away their jobs. With no jobs, there is no reason for them to stay.

        2. JPHALL November 21, 2014

          Subject: Re: New comment posted on Obama’ s Expected Immigration Action Stokes Republican Fury

          1. johninPCFL November 22, 2014

            His numbers came from Glenn Beck’s butt. The real numbers were less than half those quoted (including those who “self deported”), and over a two year period: The “Handbook of Texas,” sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, says in its entry on “Operation Wetback” that the number forced to leave is “probably less than 1.3 million”:

            Handbook of Texas: The INS claimed as many as 1,300,000, though the number officially apprehended did not come anywhere near this total. The INS estimate rested on the claim that most aliens, fearing apprehension by the government, had voluntarily repatriated themselves before and during the operation. … Many commentators have considered these figure[s] to be exaggerated.

          2. JPHALL November 22, 2014

            As usually you did not read the whole articleEven with the help of the Mexican government it failed.
            From your Wkipedia citation: “During the entirety of the Operation, border recruitment of illegal workers by American growers continued due largely to the inexpensiveness of illegal labor and the desire of growers to avoid the bureaucratic obstacles of the Bracero program; the continuation of illegal immigration despite the efforts of Operation Wetback was largely responsible for the failure of the program.[38] Operation Wetback was immediately successful. However, this success would be short lived, as the program would fail to limit the number of workers entering the United States from Mexico illegally.[40] ]” You can not succeed as lomg as jobs are available here and not in Mexico
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Obama’ s Expected Immigration Action Stokes Republican Fury

          3. James Bowen November 24, 2014

            Read the other article I posted. The program was very successful. By 1959 illegal immigration was practically non-existent in the U.S for the reason that these enforcement efforts had made it so there were no jobs in the U.S. for illegals. This remained the case until the mid-60’s when Lyndon Johnson, long a foe of strict immigration enforcement, signed the Hart-Cellar Act, which opened the floodgates for both legal and illegal immigration.

          4. JPHALL November 24, 2014

            YOU ARE SO FULL OF BS. As a resident of California I know that is BS. illegal Mexican workers have been a part of California agriculture continously since the end of the Bracero program. It is just that White America never paid attention since they stayed on the farms. It was not a problem until they started moving to the cities, bringing their families here and began demanding better treatment. I grew up with former farm workers and their children. Subject: Re: New comment posted on Obama’ s Expected Immigration Action Stokes Republican Fury

        3. johninPCFL November 22, 2014

          The original email, first sent around the net in 2005, said 13 million. What happened to the other 10 million that the first email claimed Eisenhower deported? Oh, yeah. That was a lie too.

          The “Handbook of Texas,” sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association, says in its entry on “Operation Wetback” that the number forced to leave is “probably less than 1.3 million”:

          Handbook of Texas: The INS claimed as many as 1,300,000, though the number officially apprehended did not come anywhere near this total. The INS estimate rested on the claim that most aliens, fearing apprehension by the government, had voluntarily repatriated themselves before and during the operation. … Many commentators have considered these figure[s] to be exaggerated.

          1. James Bowen November 22, 2014

            It was over a million apprehensions, and another 2 million left when they realized the government was serious. See the following:



            And whatever the final count was, there is no denying that it reduced the illegal population to basically zero.

    2. jmprint November 21, 2014

      Get over it, you will get a chance to overturn it in three years.

      1. James Bowen November 21, 2014

        Not if we can defund it in January.

        1. jmprint November 21, 2014

          But of course Mr. Brown, isn’t that the name of the game, obstruction and get nothing accomplished, why don’t we just shut down the Government again, who needs it!

          1. James Bowen November 21, 2014

            Please quit using that scare tactic. DHS can be funded in a separate bill containing the defunding language, thereby avoiding a government shutdown.

            As for obstruction, there is nothing wrong with it when it concerns a bill that would cause irreparable harm to the nation.

          2. jmprint November 21, 2014

            DHS is that the Department of Health & Human Services? iF so why do YOU want to hurt Americans?

          3. James Bowen November 21, 2014

            DHS as in Department of Homeland Security.

          4. jmprint November 22, 2014

            So you don’t want to keep the US safe? hmmm you hate immigrants that much! How deep are your roots.

          5. James Bowen November 22, 2014

            Giving these illegal aliens amnesty defeats the whole purpose of DHS anyway. It is that action which endangers America. The perpetrators of the first World Trade Center attacks, 9/11, and the Boston bombings were all immigrants, both legal and illegal. If DHS is not allowed to enforce immigration laws, as is currently, we don’t lose anything we haven’t already lost, and we might just regain what we lost by preventing the amnesty.

          6. highpckts November 21, 2014

            And please explain how this immigration bill will do irreparable harm to this country? We are a nation of immigrants! What in the Hell is your problem with this bill or are you just too stupid to recognize fairness. Saint Reagan and Bushy did the same thing and don’t tell me they worked with Congress because if they did they wouldn’t have needed an excutive order!!

          7. DAK27 November 21, 2014

            His problem isn’t with the bill, it is with the President. If Obama were to resign tomorrow, James Bowen would be on here saying “See? I told you he was a quitter!”

          8. James Bowen November 21, 2014

            The U.S. is overpopulated, and immigration is the cause of our population growth. In order to stabilize our population, we must slash immigration. This must happen if we are to preserve any sort of quality of life for future generations of Americans.

          9. jmprint November 22, 2014

            The new immigrants are the future. We recycle, that’s life. Those are God’s intentions. Here today, gone tomorrow.

          10. James Bowen November 22, 2014

            So now your assuming the role of messenger from God. No wonder why you are fine with the President nullifying our laws.

            These illegal immigrants are invaders. If they are our future, that means the American nation has no future.

        2. highpckts November 21, 2014

          Right! After all, the GOP are only looking out for the people and if that means spending millions shutting down the government, then so be it! It’s for our own good!

          1. James Bowen November 21, 2014

            This can be done without shutting down the government. A separate appropriations bill can be written for DHS which would contain the defunding orders.

    3. highpckts November 21, 2014

      Live with it! The GOP brought this on deliberately! I remember Boehner in the early going of the ACA, asking the President to delay the business mandate, which he did and now they want to sue him for it? Unbelievable!

      1. jmprint November 21, 2014

        Not only do they want, they just did, pathetic republicans.

      2. James Bowen November 21, 2014

        Congress rejected a bad bill. The system worked as designed. Congress would demonstrate itself to be broken now if they don’t stop this.

    4. highpckts November 21, 2014

      As for immigration, the President waited a year and half for the House to come up with something. In his speech last nite he asked again for anything from the House in the form of a workable bill. NOTHING! The GOP needs this to keep their base fired up so they can make the people think they are working for their good! Since when? They have earned NOTHING! They do NOTHING and by January things will get much worse!!

      1. James Bowen November 21, 2014

        Congress is not obliged to give the President what he wants. Congress categorically rejected a very bad bill (and was under enormous pressure from their constituents to do so). The system worked as designed, and the President has not right to nullify it.

        1. highpckts November 22, 2014

          Oh so you read the bill and I’m talking about the immigration bill here? And since when does anyone in Congress ask their constituents what the Hell they want? No, they refused the bill because they knew it wasn’t going to do them anygood. The President has the power to go around Congress on this matter and if he didn’t we would be stuck with a broken system forever with everyone complaining that he didn’t do anything!!! You can’t have it both ways!!

          1. James Bowen November 22, 2014

            There is nothing broken about the system except for the faithful execution of the laws we have. The President does not have the power to contravene existing laws, which is what he is doing here.

            Trust me, Congress (especially the House) pays attention to what their constituents want. Sure, they feel they need to please the donors, but donor money is no good if people are so mad at them that the campaign money won’t get them many votes come Election Day. Just ask Eric Cantor.

        2. jmprint November 22, 2014

          “The system worked as designed,” – yea if you like “stale mate”

          1. James Bowen November 22, 2014

            Congress rejected a very bad bill, and they are under no obligation to pass bills the President wants. That is how are system works, it is meant to be difficult to pass new laws. That is part of the checks and balances principle.

  4. charleo1 November 20, 2014

    Oh man! Oh man! Oh man! This is really going to make the Republicans angry! They’ll probably try and block every piece of legislation they even think Obama might like them to pass. Hold up all his appointments. Be perpetually snotty, call him all kinds of names, like “Emperor,” or “Tyrant,” and talk incessantly, about the impending lawsuits, and the impeachment that’s now, “A real possibility!” Now that he’s really, “shredded, The Constitution,” Unlike the other times when they said he’d shredded it. This time, well, they are really going to say he did it! Shredded it!!! “Playing with matches!” Said Mr. “Hell No!!” Boehner. Still incredibly mad over healthcare. And now this. Just when the T-Party was starting to warm to Obama.

    1. jmprint November 21, 2014

      There is nothing they can do, that won’t make them look greedy and selfish.

      1. DAK27 November 21, 2014

        Could that be because they ARE greedy and selfish? I mean that is their defining characteristic after all (right after bigot, racist, homophobic, stupid, ignorant, and childish.)

      2. charleo1 November 21, 2014

        Haters gotta hate. Takers gotta take.

  5. itsfun November 21, 2014

    Has anyone ever seen a poll where the American people support this action?

    1. jmprint November 21, 2014

      Yes it’s in the hearts of true christians that don’t get polled.

      1. DAK27 November 21, 2014

        Then perhaps it is time for the “true” Christians to speak up and denounce the “untrue” Christians and drive them from the fold? Until that happens, then all Christians will be judged by the actions of the loudest, most obnoxious, the most hateful among them. (Same as the Republican party is judged by the craziest and loudest and the most hateful.)

        1. jmprint November 21, 2014

          This is the United States of America, where all people have the right to practice their religion. In the end the only judgement that counts is God’s.

          1. DAK27 November 21, 2014

            If you have no problem being painted by the same brush, then great, let those haters and liars preach another sermon at your church but do not ask me to spare the “true” Christians from my anger towards all those who preach hate and fear.

          2. jmprint November 21, 2014

            I am not understanding you, I don’t profess to being a christian, because christianity is a large blanket covering, adulterers, murderers, rapist and then some people that truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I try to follow the walk of Jesus Christ, I am not perfect, no human being is. I don’t hate, and I don’t fear. I love and help all people, I try to turn all negatives into positives. That’s life.

          3. DAK27 November 21, 2014

            To my way of thinking, if a group (any group be it Christians, the Elks, the Masons, whatever) lets the ones who are the loudest define their group, and not call them out for their lies or half-truths, then they are really saying that is how they believe as well. So in your original comment on the “true Christians” not being polled, I called BS on that as the “true” Christians ARE the ones who hate, who lie, who cheat and steal because they ALLOW those that do these things to define their group. Same as the Republicans who say they are for family values but fail to say anything against other Republicans who commit adultery.

          4. jmprint November 21, 2014

            OK, have a Happy Blessed Thanksgiving.

      2. itsfun November 21, 2014

        Did GOD give you the right to decide what a true christian is?

        1. jmprint November 21, 2014

          I don’t pick and choose, they do. What God gave me is the ability to see the difference.

    2. johninPCFL November 21, 2014

      Yes. The American people have been polled recently and support the characteristics of the president’ s actions. While they’d rather Congress produce the action, the lack of Congressional action makes the president’s actions acceptable.
      Like Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, an GWB, sometimes the president has to lead Congress to the correct actions.

      1. itsfun November 21, 2014

        Ronald Reagan and GWP had the approval of Congress. They didn’t go around Congress. What poll are you referring to?

        1. johninPCFL November 21, 2014

          NBC/WSJ: The new NBC/WSJ poll also finds a majority of Americans (57 percent) favoring a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and that increases to 74 percent when respondents are told that such a pathway requires paying fines and back taxes, as well as passing a security background check. I think if you check, the parameters that the president laid out for the reforms are exactly these: PAY BACK TAXES, PAY FINES, PASS SECURITY CHECKS. Sounds like the 74% solution to me.

          And so far as I know, the Senate represents half of Congress, so the president is in agreement with them: In June 2013, the U.S. Senate — by a bipartisan 68-32 vote — passed legislation creating this pathway for undocumented immigrants, plus bolstering security of the U.S.-Mexico border.

  6. DAK27 November 21, 2014

    “I’m mystified by the political calculation,” he said. “There’s a new Congress coming in. Why would you do this on the eve of Thanksgiving going into the holiday unless you just want to create a political crisis?”
    Why would you get together on the eve of the President taking office and plan to do everything possible to make him a “one term” leader? I say poke the GOP in the eye with a sharp stick at every turn, Mr. President. Let these assholes who REFUSE to govern feel some pain for their inaction these last 6 years.

  7. highpckts November 21, 2014

    Everything this President does unfuriates the GOP! Hell, go for it! You got nothing to lose! You could give them everything and they would still hate the President!

  8. tdm3624 November 21, 2014

    I like the President’s proposal. I wonder though if he had suggested an English language proficiency test would the opposition have got on board then? Let the immigrants stay (Democrats happy) but make sure they speak English (Republicans happy).

    1. DAK27 November 21, 2014

      In my opinion, NOTHING President Obama could do would make the GOP happy.

      1. tdm3624 November 21, 2014

        Good point (I say sadly). Although it would be great entertainment if President Obama were to suddenly say he is pro gun or perhaps supports tax breaks for those poor, poor wealthy folks. What would the GOP do then?

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