The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Marker!

I want to lay down a potentially embarrassing Yglesias-style marker about the likelihood that Obama will take some sweeping executive action this summer to end deportations if Congress doesn’t act on a legislative immigration overhaul. The marker is: It’s not going to happen. Why? 1) It won’t help Democrats that much in the 2014 elections (key Senate races, for example, are mostly not in Latino-heavy states) and might even motivate the GOP base; 2) It would lower the chances of getting some legislative amnesty passed before the end of the current Congressional term. Legislative amnesty’s not dead, and even if it were Obama would probably be reluctant to give up on it. There’s always the lame duck session.

I agree with WaPo‘s Greg Sargent that amnesty backers are increasingly realizing that it may be now or never for legislative action–in part because the “comprehensivist” coalition has begun to splinter, in part because it would be difficult for the GOP establishment to pass an amnesty bill in 2015 or 2016 without sinking the presidential candidacy of what may be their last, best horse in the race, Marco Rubio. But the desperation runs on both sides of the aisle–affecting Democratic amnesty backers (including maybe Sargent) as well as GOP businessmen scared of tight labor markets, GOP strategists whose seemingly only strategy is to “get right” with Latinos, and the GOP House leaders who love both groups.

In particular, it’s hard to believe that, after confidently predicting a legislative win this term, Democrats and ethnic activists are now content to see their dream slip away until at least 2017, when their coalition may have splintered further. By 2017, the terms of debate might change, away from an “amnesty first, enforcement later” approach. High-tech companies may might be bought off with visa increases. Persistent high unemployment could force unions to bail on higher immigration levels. Latino voters might be partially placated with lowered deportation–including any decrease due to the executive actions Hispanic groups are now pushing.

That’s why predictions by Sargent and others of unilateral moves by the president look like a bluff, an attempt to stampede the House into some kind of action soon. Act by summer, or else Obama’s going to grant de facto amnesty to everyone anyway! He’s gonna do it! We’ve talked to him! But if you read the reports carefully, those who’ve talked with Obama don’t really say he’s promised any kind of broad protective action (not that there are many potential deportees settled in the interior of the country who are not already effectively protected). They say only he “will do more using executive authority” in response to activist demands. That something “more” will almost certainly be some kind of incremental move along the lines predicted by Mark Krikorian, not a broad DREAMer-like protection for millions of the undocumented (e.g., all parents of “deferred” DREAMers, siblings of DREAMers, or simply everyone covered by the unpassed “Gang of 8″ bill). …

P.S.: Krikorian beat me to this point last week, …