Anti-immigration House Republicans (who object to legal immigration) are in a pinch. If they do nothing on immigration then they’ve failed to solve the catastrophe they have been decrying for years (no visa exit system, border insecurity, etc.). If they move only on border security they may be hard-pressed to do any better than the Senate bill (which threw the kitchen sink at border security); worse yet, if they do come up with a super-duper full-proof plan then the excuse for not proceeding with a path to citizenship becomes weaker.
So these voices have latched onto a new argument that is the most inane yet in the immigration debate. The president can’t be trusted to follow the law.
Let’s concede that the president has a disturbing pattern of deciding which laws to enforce and which to ignore – and which parts of laws to enforce and which not to. However, the question is whether his lawlessness is facilitated by passing no legislation or by passing legislation which constrains his authority. We have already seen that in the absence of legislation, he unilaterally decided not to enforce immigration laws against a subset of so-called DREAMers; Republicans got nothing in return for that.
Moreover, if the logic of anti-immigration members of Congress logic holds, then the House should not pass any legislation on anything since the president won’t enforce the “good parts.” Why pass the sequester, a balanced-budget amendment, tax or entitlement reform or anything else? Ironically, it’s the president who wants to sidestep Congress and operate by executive mandate.
And finally, to the relief of conservatives, President Obama is leaving office in January, 2017. Certainly Congress can structure legislation just as the Dems did on Obamacare so that the most contentious parts of the legislation are implemented after he leaves town.
In short, the argument is really the sort of one-liner radio talk show hosts spout. For elected officials charged with addressing the country’s problems, it is a shameful abdication of responsibility. But is revealing of the predicament in which GOP House members now find themselves. Doing nothing about an issue they demagogued for years is harder than you might think.