THE PRESIDENT BLINKED ON IMMIGRATION

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For months the President has been threatening to issue some type of mass amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants by decree. He has no authority to give people in the country illegally work permits or social security numbers, but he did just that for hundreds of thousands of young illegals two years ago to boost his standing with Hispanics during his re-election. It worked. Now with a midterm election looming, the pressure from his political base for a much broader program of legalization, perhaps for everyone in the country illegally, was expected.

But there was a backlash from conservatives and immigration restrictionists that grew loud enough that the President reversed course. Last week he announced he needed more time to think about immigration. It appears there will be no decree before the November mid-term election. He probably perceived any such action would do more harm than good to his political interests. If Republicans win control of the Senate in November he may decide not to proceed with any immigration decree. A provocative decree would likely lead to impeachment hearings in the House and possible retaliation against Obama nominees in the Senate. It just might be a bridge too far and cause too much harm to other things the President needs from Congress.

If the Senate stays Democratic, then we will probably see a more modest amnesty decree than what had been speculated about. The most intense pressure from immigration enthusiasts is for a halt to deportations. (And the administration has overstated the number of deportations by counting removals by the Border Control, which was never done historically.) This could occur, or perhaps a halt to all deportations except violent felons. Issuing work permits and social security numbers to millions of illegal immigrants will be very controversial. It seems Republicans have found their voice on immigration for the moment. They passed a bill in late July to modify the law requiring hearings before deporting minors from Central America. They are also demanding stronger border enforcement and no longer talk of “immigration reform” or legal status for illegals. The summer border crisis, and reports of ISIS terrorists entering the country through Mexico, have scared the public.

The more concerned the public is about the border the less likely the President is to act on his own (lawlessly). The tide of events seems to be moving in favor of common sense on immigration.