President Obama (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Obama (Evan Vucci/AP)

Ruth Marcus pretty much nails the all-around frustration with President Obama’s “I will, I won’t, I might, We’ll see” approach to immigration reform. Just before the August recess, at the height of the flood of unaccompanied children flowing over the southern border, the president made it clear that, if Congress didn’t act, he would take executive action. By last week, the administration started sending signals that said action might be delayed until after the midterm elections.

Just how frustrating Obama’s back-and-forth is for immigration activists was brought home to me over the weekend, as I rehearsed during a commercial break the lead-in script for a segment on the topic on MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki.” The reactions of Gabi Domenzain,  the former director of Hispanic press for Obama for America, and Erika Andiola, the DREAMer who confronted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) last month about his anti-immigration stance, were so intense off-air that I asked them about it on the air.

“The Republicans blocked immigration reform. It’s not passing in a legislative way,” Domenzain said after noting that 60,000 more people would be deported if Obama delays action until after the midterms. “And now the only thing that you have is this promise from the president to act before the end of the summer, and, again, like it’s known in Spanish, ‘la promesa de Obama,’ it might evaporate? It’s very disheartening.”

Andiola was more blunt. “Where is his courage? President Obama has been telling us that he’s going to do something,” she said. “[I]f DREAMers have been able to have the courage to do that, what you just saw to [Sen. Marco] Rubio, with [Rep.] Steve King, with everything that we’ve done, I don’t understand why the president doesn’t have the courage to really face Republicans and what they’re saying.”

Marcus observed in her column today, “Sometimes if everyone is mad at you, it is proof that you are doing your job. Sometimes, it’s a sign that you are simply messing up.” She is decidedly in the latter camp. I’m hard-pressed to disagree with her. Unless someone can definitively show that executive action on immigration would lead to an electoral revolt that would cost Democrats control of the Senate (and imperil Obama’s presidency), Obama’s continued vacillation on this issue doesn’t make sense.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.