Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has indicated that he’ll be the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means that (as the Washington Times wrote) Obama will be facing an immigration foe at the top of that key committee. We’ve written about Grassley many times on this blog, and he’s certainly no friend to immigrants. But as the hot topic on immigration continues to involve President Obama’s much-anticipated executive action, it’s worth reminding readers that Grassley was once for executive action, before he was against it.
These days, Grassley is sending letters to Obama warning him away from executive action and saying that any announcement would be an “abuse of authority.” But Grassley’s attitude toward executive action on immigration was different in 2008, when a Republican president was around. George W. Bush used executive powers on immigration (just like every president before him going back to at least Eisenhower), and when he required all federal contractors to participate in the E-Verify system, and Grassley was all for it.
After the 2008 announcement, Grassley appeared on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” to praise Bush’s action, saying “it’s so important that the president do that” and “it’s quite a victory to get it done by executive.”
Yet now that Obama is planning to use his own executive powers to bring relief to millions of undocumented immigrants, Grassley is sure to be one of the loudest voices opposing him. Grassley’s office now claims that there are differences between what Bush was trying to do and what Obama wants to do. But as Lucia Graves at National Journal wrote in May, the real difference is merely that “Bush was using [executive action] to do something Grassley agrees with. It would behoove Grassley to just say so.”