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Pundits: Obama Executive Action Smart Policy, Equally Smart Politics

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Bloomberg Editorial, “Obama’s Midterm Surprise: Immigration” –“A major executive action liberalizing strictures on undocumented immigrants with lengthy U.S. residency would change the midterm dynamic. Experience suggests that the reaction of Representative Steve King and other Republican nativists would not be subtle. And Republican leaders, including McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, would add to the general clamor. Conflict over immigration would become much louder and more heated, and the issue might well dominate some campaigns. The conservative base is already motivated; the threat of liberalized immigration policy seems unlikely to add greatly to Republican vote tallies. But in some states with tough Senate races — Georgia and North Carolina, for example — a knock-down national fight over immigration might impel more Hispanics and Asians to vote, while heightened attacks on Obama could rally more black voters, whose devotion to the president was tested, and reconfirmed, in 2012. In a tight race, Hispanics and Asians might make a measurable difference; black voters could make a decisive one. The biggest challenge facing Democratic candidates in 2014 is arguably not Obama fatigue, disgust with Washington or frustration with an economy that simply does not reward unskilled work. It’s the concentration of Senate races in conservative states and the drop-off of traditional Democratic constituencies, which typically fail to vote in large numbers in midterm elections. Not every Democratic voter would be comfortable with amnesty for more undocumented immigrants. Some genuinely independent voters might be turned off as well. But a high-stakes, high-drama pre-election fight between Obama and Republicans might motivate more Democrats to vote while promoting immigration policy that Obama prefers to the status quo.”

Brian Beutler of the New Republic, “Boehner’s Anti-Obama Lawsuit Could Seal the GOP’s Coffin with Latinos” – “John Boehner would never cop to it, but his pending lawsuit against President Obama will be the final word on whether the GOP is the party of maximum deportations, including of immigrants eligible for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive—the group of upstanding undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country when they were children known as ‘Dreamers.’ Boehner will either include the DACA program among his list of the president’s supposedly illegal executive actions, and thus cement his party’s standing as one that represents the reactionary anti-immigrant minority in the country; or he’ll leave DACA out, giving tacit consent to the program and infuriating the anti-immigrant faction of his own conference.…Last year, House Republicans passed a bill that would defund DACA. Leaving it out of the lawsuit would run at odds with all of the GOP’s past actions. But including it—suing the president to deport Dreamers—would doom the party’s already floundering efforts to rehabilitate its standing in immigrant communities.”

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, “John Boehner May Plan to Sue Obama Over Immigration” – “It [DACA] was a very popular action with the rest of the country. It was also, needless to say, very popular with Hispanics, a demographic group that Republicans covet. And legally, this puts Boehner on tricky ground too. Presidents have pretty broad authority to decide federal law-enforcement and prosecutorial priorities, so Obama will be able to make a pretty good case for himself. It’s not a slam-dunk case, and it’s certainly possible he could lose. But he sure seems to be on more solid ground than with the Obamacare mandate delays…we’re still in the dark about what exactly Boehner plans to sue Obama over. Mini-DREAM sure seems like a loser to me, though. Do Republicans really want to put a final nail in the coffin of their efforts to expand their reach in the Hispanic community? This would do it.”

Paul Waldman of Washington Post, “Obama sticks his thumb in Republicans’ eyes on immigration” — “And since Democrats have worked just as hard to convince the public that Republicans are insanely obstructionist as Republicans have to convince the public that Obama is a tyrant, the president’s response isn’t hard to explain to people; they understand by now that Republicans are opposed to passing immigration reform. So the places where Republicans have been the most recalcitrant are those where Obama is most likely to be emboldened to move aggressively…Boehner and other national leaders want to pass reform in order to convince Hispanic voters that the Republican party is not hostile toward them. But individual Republican members of the House, most of whom come from safely conservative districts, have no interest in comprehensive reform, or anything that goes beyond building more fences and hiring more border patrol agents. So if he’s going to force a confrontation with the opposition, this is as good an issue to do it on as any.”

La Opinion Editorial, “It is time to take action” — Inevitably, executive orders will stir up Republican criticism toward the White House for what they call an “imperial presidency.” This is a vicious cycle that begins with an obstructionist Congress—even worse now in an election year—leading to presidential proposals that force the president to act on his own through executive orders, which lead to accusations that he is evading Congress. What matters is for there to truly be concrete executive measures that stop, at least, some categories of deportations.Obama took the first step, warning the public about measures that must be taken given that the House of Representatives gave up on fulfilling its work of negotiating and legislating. We hope and trust that these are not empty threats from the president. The White House, better than anyone, knows that for a long time, people in Washington have toyed with the hopes of millions of immigrants.”

New York TimesEditorial, “Mr. Obama, Go Big on Immigration” – “Republicans will howl over Mr. Obama’s solo actions. Let them. Let the party pay a heavy price among Latino and Asian voters for failing to tame its nativist wing, whose only idea for immigration is a fantasy of an airtight border and mass expulsions. Most Americans find the Republicans’ enforcement obsession unconvincing; polls support the moderation and legalization that Mr. Obama and Democrats have fought for…As the border crisis plays out, public support for legalization will be tested. But Mr. Obama can ease fears if he acts on the belief that millions who are here are a benefit to the country and deserve a chance to stay. Through cynical abdication, Republicans wasted a precious chance to fix immigration for the 21st century. That game is over. The president has moved on. It’s about time.”

Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake to The Hill: “It would help with Latino voters and we’re in desperate need of higher turnout among Latino voters. Right now they could say, ‘Nobody cares about us, nobody is doing anything for us – either party.”