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Yesterday Marked a Historic Tipping Point in the Immigration Debate – And in American Politics

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The President Promised to Lead and the GOP Was Left Behind 

It can be hard to notice a tipping point when immersed in the day-to-day developments of an issue, but we predict yesterday will create a “before and after” moment in the immigration debate – like the June 15, 2012 announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Yesterday, President Obama made clear that, in light of Republicans’ refusal to enact immigration reform, he will use his existing legal authority to protect as many undocumented immigrants as possible.  The President took charge of the debate, called out House Republicans’ excuses and inaction and set the stage for substantial executive action – from refocusing enforcement priorities at DHS and DOJ to building on affirmative relief programs like DACA.

Meanwhile, Republicans are sputtering, fuming and on defense.  They say they won’t fix the immigration system because, well, it’s broken and it’s all Obama’s fault.  They continue to demagogue the Central American kids issue and are unlikely to work with the President to solve it, because, well, it’s a symptom of a broken immigration system and it’s all Obama’s fault.  They decry his June 2012 decision to protect Dreamers who arrived before 2007, and double down on the meme that this is the cause of Central Americans arriving in June 2014.  And just to show how upset they are, they are organizing themselves to…drumroll…file a lawsuit against the President.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

When, with the advantage of hindsight, we look back at the evolution of the politics of immigration, yesterday will go down as a significant turning point.  Refusing to bow to the obvious GOP attempts to intimidate him into inaction, President Obama took charge of the debate, put Republicans on defense and served notice that the distinctions between the two parties are about to become profound and long-lasting.  One party is willing to do whatever it takes to move our immigration system out of the repair shop and into the future; the other party is willing to whatever they can to keep the status quo and pretend they aren’t to blame for doing so.  The likely consequence is that the Democratic Party will continue to grow its ability to attract support from the changing American electorate and the Republican Party will continue to contract because of its hostility to the fastest growing groups of new voters.  For Republicans, who have been dangling on the edge of the demographic cliff, yesterday provided an extra push that might just seal their fate for a generation.