Summer’s Over: Will the President Issue Executive Actions on Immigration?

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama said he would pursue Executive actions on immigration reform if Congress did not pass a bill by the end of the summer. With the summer come and gone, many in the President’s base will be looking to him to make good on his word. In addition to questions over the legality of the President’s actions, there are also political considerations that make it potentially perilous for him to press forward with Executive actions. On the one hand, if he does not act before Election Day and nonetheless loses the Senate, some will say that members of the base was so disappointed that they did not bother to vote. On the other, moving forward unilaterally might further threaten a number of already endangered incumbent Democratic Senators, costing the party the Senate. As James Oliphant of National Journal writes, unilateral action could “feed the Republican narrative of an out-of-control chief executive”. But the President might be willing to sacrifice this election for the next one. As Oliphant writes, “The long-term political view is that granting widespread deportation relief will accrue to the Democrats’ advantage in 2016, helping to ensure that the Obama Coalition doesn’t fray, the president is succeeded by a Democrat who will safeguard his signature accomplishments, and the Senate, if lost, is regained.”

Amidst questions over whether and when the President would pursue Executive actions on immigration this fall, the chief Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Ranking Member Tom Harkin of Iowa, have pressed the Administration for more information on changes made to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program permits the government to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and delay deportation for those who were brought to the United States while underage.  The two Republicans are eager to see that the Administration “root out fraud and abuse”. Chairman Goodlatte and Senator Harkin wrote in letter to Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, that one of the FAQs “provides an open invitation for fraud and abuse by assuring potential DACA applicants that USCIS [U.S. Customs and Immigration Service] has no plans to actually verify the validity of any evidentiary documents submitted in support of an application.”

Politico: White House Strife Stalls Obama Immigration Plans

National Journal: The White House Is Spoiling for a Fight on Immigration

RollCall: Top Judiciary Republicans Demand Answer on DACA Changes

House Judiciary Committee: Goodlatte & Grassley Demand Answers About Fraud & Abuse in DACA Program

Analysis: What Will DC Do Before the Midterms?

Congress is back in session next week and the midterm elections are two months away, but what will the legislature do until then? The Wall Street Journal’s veteran Washington watcher Jerry Seib offers his thoughts, noting that “both parties have slightly different imperatives”. Republicans, he says, will probably want to approve short-term funding for the Export-Import Bank, which would satisfy business interests but also provide hope to the more conservative wing that the agency will eventually be dismantled. The GOP will also probably move for a continuing resolution to fund the government past the elections. Democrats, he says, will probably push for legislation to tamp down on so-called “corporate inversions” whereby businesses set up headquarters overseas to take advantage of lower tax rates abroad. Two other big question marks, he says, are whether Congress would vote on the President’s plans to use additional military force against the terrorist group the Islamic State (IS) and how the Republicans would react to executive actions on immigration.

The Wall Street Journal: Seib Video: Elections and the Congressional Schedule

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