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Opinion Pieces, Editorials: Obama Misguided in Delay on Executive Action

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It’s been about a week since President Obama announced that he would delay his anticipated executive action on immigration reform, and the President has come under severe criticism for his delay.  Spanish-language media, immigration reform advocates, TV show hosts, and members of Congress have all blasted Obama for his perceived prioritization of politics over relief for millions of families.  Below is a roundup of more condemnation, from this week’s opinion pieces and editorials pointing out that Obama’s delay is unlikely to save the Senate this year anyway, though it will lead to more grief for immigrant families (see: Pedro).  Obama still needs to act, and when he does, he’s going to have to do something big.  See more below:

Time: Missed Chance on Immigration, by Joe Klein: “politics without moral content becomes an exercise in competing cynicisms, with progress an occasional, almost accidental, consequence. And in such an atmosphere you have to wonder why Barack Obama is playing games with one of the core issues that define who we are as a country.”

The Atlantic: Obama’s Long Immigration Betrayal, by Molly Ball: “To understand why these advocates are so hurt and angry, you have to understand the meandering road immigration reform has taken over the course of the last decade—a road littered with false starts, broken promises, and a community repeatedly left in the lurch. Latinos feel that they have been jerked around by politicians who alternately pander for their votes and shunt them aside when their priorities become inconvenient—like now. Obama in particular has made a series of pledges on immigration, only to abandon them all. Now, when the president says he still plans to act—just give him a couple of months—reformers don’t know whether to trust him.

The New Republic: Obama Played Politics on Immigration—And Democrats Will Pay the Price, by Brian Beutler: “Obama created this problem for himself. The White House isn’t even pretending that his decision to delay deportation relief wasn’t about trying to protect vulnerable Democrats. But it was also undertaken without giving adequate consideration to the possibility that those Democrats will lose anyhow…Obama will have placed himself in an incredibly awkward position. He will still be bound by his modified pledge to announce deportation relief before the end of the year, but will have to act in the aftermath of an election Republicans just won opposing what they tendentiously describe as ‘executive amnesty.’ They’ll rewrite the story of their victory around their position on deportation. Obviously that won’t imbue them with the magic power to prevent Obama from moving forward anyhow. But it might spook Obama into doing nothing at all (there won’t be enough pearls for the centrist commentariat to clutch). And it will definitely encourage conservative hardliners to place ‘executive amnesty’ at the center of proximate fights over funding the government and increasing the debt limit. That might bode poorly for Republican presidential hopefuls. But for the families who were promised deportation relief, it spells danger.”

Vox: Obama’s Immigration Delay Gives Ammunition to his Critics, by Ezra Klein: “This is the problem with the White House’s decision — and, to some degree, the way they’ve managed this whole issue. If these deportations are a crisis that merits deeply controversial, extra-congressional action, then it’s hard to countenance a politically motivated delay. If they’re not such a crisis that immediate action is needed, then why go around Congress in the first place?”

Vox: Immigration Advocates are Devastated. And They Want Democrats to Feel Their Pain, by Dara Lind: “For an illustration of what happens when DREAMers don’t trust politicians in either party, it might be useful to look at the summer of 2010…Democrats were extremely displeased by the DREAMers’ tactics. But they worked…DREAMers will use their public visibility to make Democrats uncomfortable  — and give back some of the pain they’re feeling.”

Baltimore Sun: Obama’s Craven Delay on Immigration: “What’s truly absurd is the notion that somehow candidates like Kay Hagan in North Carolina or Mary Landrieu in Louisiana will have their prospects brightened because an executive order has been delayed. On the issue of immigration, political conservatives have largely abandoned their pro-business roots to appeal to the most base, xenophobic instincts of voters. They’ve also succeeded in making their supporters believe signing an executive order is the equivalent of tearing up the Constitution, even though his predecessors signed more such documents. And yet these same anti-immigrant, anti-Obama voters will stay home if he promises to wait until later before picking up his pen? Here’s what the delay really means. It means that the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants living in this country will continue to be treated as sub-humans and likely thousands more will be deported, their families torn asunder, between now and whenever Mr. Obama actually takes action on his executive order…And it sends a message to Democratic voters, be they in North Carolina, Alaska or just about anywhere, that Mr. Obama is willingly playing a game with people’s lives.”

Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Obama Fails to Lead on Immigration: “Now Obama’s backbone has proven to be just as weak, as he abandons a key piece of his agenda and breaks a promise that Hispanic voters will not forget. Immigration reform will not get any easier after the November election regardless of whether Democrats keep tenuous control of the Senate. And Floridians are left with a broken system. Undocumented students who graduate from Florida high schools can get in-state college tuition but can’t get drivers’ licenses. More than 22,000 young undocumented immigrants in Florida have received temporary legal status under Obama’s 2012 order, but their parents and relatives could be deported at any time. The demand for immigrants who can work in the tourist industry and in the fields remains, but there are no improvements in visas and guest worker programs that would enable more of them to work legally.  Congressional Republicans feared political backlash and failed to act on immigration reform. Now Obama has succumbed to those same fears. Americans deserve better from both Congress and the president.”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editorial: President Barack Obama should forget politics and act on immigration: “The Senate last year passed a bill that would have done that, but it bogged down in the House, where GOP obstructionism reigns. We noted in July that most Americans favor reform. If that’s the case, why back down from executive action on immigration? Why not use those politics against Republicans and on behalf of the 11 million?  That would show some real political backbone.”

New York Times Editorial: Another Broken Promise on Immigration: “The real reason, Mr. Obama’s aides have acknowledged, is that the midterm elections are upon us, and Mr. Obama believes the issue is politically too hot. He listened to political operatives who didn’t want to jeopardize Democratic control of the Senate. As for the immigrants and their families and advocates who have been battling for reform and have been disappointed for years, they were once again seen as safely expendable. A political emergency collided with a human one, and the humans lost.”

Bloomberg View Editorial: Fear Immigrates to the White House: “The new delay is unlikely to give Obama much respite. Republicans are still well-positioned to take control of the Senate after November. Despite the party’s need to diversify its ranks, and the damage to its long-term prospects that the fight against immigration is inflicting, it’s entirely possible that a Republican Senate would emulate the destructive impulses of the House. (Rubio and his colleagues have been chased off the field.)  All of this leaves the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in limbo.”