President Barack Obama is trying to save his unpopular business-backed campaign to boost immigration from a midterm rejection by American voters, according to his spokesman.
“By injecting [the immigration issue] into the highly charged political debate six or eight weeks before the midterm elections is to subject this issue to gross distortion and partisanship,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Sept. 8.
“And we don’t want to do that,” he added.
A growing number of GOP politicians and candidates are using the media and TV-ads to push the issue into the midterm election, and are often reaping polling advantages seven weeks before election day.
This summer, the House GOP blocked the Obama-backed Senate amnesty bill that would have doubled the annual inflow of 1 million immigrants and 700,000 guest-workers.
In response, Obama and his deputies promised in June and July to unilaterally change long-standing immigration laws by the end of summer. The planned changes reportedly will provide work-permits to several million illegals and perhaps increase the annual inflow of guest-workers.
But many polls showed the amnesty is very unpopular and would endanger Democratic Senators’ chances in November. So Obama has decided to delay his executive amnesty until after the election.
Since early 2013, “we have worked hard in painstaking fashion to cobble together this coalition of Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C. and business leaders and labor leaders… in support of this [Senate immigration] proposal,” Earnest said Sept. 8.
The president has now delayed his executive action until after the election because “he wants to ensure that all of the work that has been done over the last several years to build this powerful bipartisan coalition in support of immigration reform is sustained” after the election, Earnest said.
“By injecting an executive action in the midst of this hyper-partisan, hyper-political environment shortly before the midterms, that will have a negative impact on the broader public support and on the sustainability of immigration reform,” Earnest admitted.
That’s a reasonable prediction because a Democratic defeat in the midterm would have discredited the immigration campaign for many years, said Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Turning the midterms explicitly into a referendum on amnesty and increased immigration — and then losing — would have undermined the political case for ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ for years to come,” he said.
Populist immigration reformers such as Sen. Jeff Sessions are working to make the November election into a referendum on the Obama’s end-of-year amnesty.
“What’s wrong with the American people being able to influence their government?” Sessions said in a Sept. 8 Senate speech. “Is the president above that, has he reached such a higher level of popularity that he doesn’t have to worry about what the American people say, think or believe?”
“The President is proposing to repeal, through executive action, the lawful protections to which every American worker is entitled,” Sessions said. “His action would allow millions of illegal immigrants to instantly take precious jobs, jobs from struggling American workers, unemployed American workers by the millions, in every sector of the economy.”
Americans can block Obama’s amnesty by voting against Democratic Senators in the midterm elections, Sessions says. “This planned executive amnesty has not gone away [and] it is only a matter of months that it has been delayed unless the American people stop it.”
That view is shared by Krikorian, who wants to reduce annual immigration levels. “The midterms should still be a referendum on Obama’s lawless immigration plans… a lawless amnesty decree is bad enough, but openly saying you’re going to issue such a decree only after the people have had a chance to vote is much worse,” he wrote in National Review.
Polls say that Obama’s immigration policies, and the contents of the Senate’s immigration bill, are unpopular.
The bill, which Obama has backed for almost two years, would have doubled the inflow of immigrations and guest workers up to almost 4 million per year, partly by amnestying at least 12 million illegals. That’s a huge inflow, because it would almost equal the 4 million Americans who turn 18 each year, and would force Americans to compete for scarce jobs in a slow-growing economy against millions of low-wage foreigners.
Obama’s planned unilateral amnesty is also unpopular. It could award work-permits to millions of illegal immigrants while media household income has continued to decline since 2009.
“There should be no disputing the fact that injecting this issue into the current political environment would be really bad for the issue,” Earnest admitted.