Obama, Democrats on Defensive After Amnesty Vote

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama will meet with several telegenic illegal immigrants Wednesday, partly to shore up Democratic senators, who all voted Tuesday to block debate on a popular anti-amnesty bill.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders, in a break from past practice, said after the vote that they’ll try to restart debate as soon as this week. That aggressive response will force Democrats to repeatedly block the bill that would defund Obama’s amnesty plan, which he announced in November.

That’s a problem for Democrats in GOP-leaning states, mostly because polling since late 2012 has shown a deep shift away from Obama’s pro-immigration policies. The public now opposes Obama’s immigration policies by roughly two-to-one. Even greater margins of voters oppose companies hiring migrants in place of Americans, creating a major political opportunity for GOP candidates in 2016.

Democrats have tried to counter the polls by portraying the illegals as young, attractive strivers, even though the vast majority of the 12 million are unskilled workers, and many speak little English.

According to the White House, Obama will “meet with a group of DREAMers who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” via Obama’s June 2012 amnesty.  “The meeting is an opportunity for the President to hear directly from young immigrants whose lives have been positively affected as a result of receiving deferred action,” said the statement.

Obama’s 2012 DACA amnesty has given work permits to at least 650,000 younger illegals, dubbed “DREAMers,” despite the record low percentage of Americans who are working. In November, Obama said he would extend the amnesty to give work permits to another 4 million illegal immigrants, even though his deputies have also given out 5.46 million work permits to migrants since 2009.

The group of illegals who will meet Obama are leaders of the “United We Dream” activist group that is backed by progressives and unions.

They include a Peruvian, Maria Praeli, who was brought to the United Stat at age 5 by her parents. Obama will also meet with Yannick Diouf, the son of a diplomat from Senegal, and Rishi Singh, “a low-income, Trinidadian immigrant,” according to a press statement from United We Dream. All three have either graduated from or enrolled in U.S. universities.

GOP leaders are promising more Senate votes that would highlight the Democrats’ unpopular defense of Obama’s amnesty.

“I think it’s on [Democrats] for not wanting to talk about the issue,” South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune told Roll Call.  “I think we will give them an opportunity to vote on that more than one time, but just using the procedural rules to keep us from even debating it is a disservice to people who care deeply about this issue on both sides,” Thune said.

Even more unusually, the GOP is getting some relatively favorable press.

“Democrats block funding for DHS to protect Obama immigration orders,” said a CNN headline.

“To hear congressional Republicans tell it, Democrats are so eager to grant work permits to immigrants in the U.S. illegally that they’d risk funding for the Homeland Security Department to do it, said the lede of an Associated Press article on ABC News, headlined “Path to Compromise Unclear as Lawmakers Debate Immigration.”

This round of the post-2012 amnesty fight began in November when Obama announced a new amnesty that would had out 5 million work permits and largely end repatriation of the 12 million illegal immigrants.

In January, GOP voters forced the GOP leaders to pass an anti-amnesty measure through the House. The anti-amnesty measure funds the Department of Homeland Security until October, but bars any spending to implement Obama’s 2012 or 2014 amnesties.

Unless Congress passes a new funding bill, DHS won’t be able to cut paychecks after Feb. 27. However, law enforcement employees will remain on duty at the borders, seaports and airports.

Prior to the vote, Democrats ratcheted up the rhetoric to keep their senators in line, steer media coverage and also to intimidate GOP senators. The American people should not have “to pay a ransom to make sure the Homeland Security Department is fully funded,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer told a small group of reporters at a D.C. press conference prior to the vote.

Currently, only 44 percent of Americans adults work full-time, according to Gallup. Sixteen percent are underemployed and 7 percent are unemployed. That’s only slightly better than in 2010, according to Gallup.

Since 2009, up to 13 million foreigners have joined the U.S. workforce, helping to force down wages, boost profits and displacing millions of working-age Americans throughout the United States.

In November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs in January 2010, according to federal data highlighted by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Only 7 percent of Americans want a higher rate of immigration, according to a new Gallup poll.

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