Since Friday, most of the Republican complaints about President Obama’s new immigration policy have focused on process – the critiques have had less to do with the substance and more to do with how the president made the decision.
There are, however, exceptions.
Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) on Monday proposed legislation that would block enforcement of President Obama’s new policy of letting certain illegal immigrants request temporary relief from deportation.
Schweikert’s bill would specifically prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from allowing that relief, which Obama described on Friday as an option for up to 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally at a young age. Schweikert said his bill would prevent Obama from “dictating” immigration law from the White House.
Schweikert called the president’s policy “amnesty” – which really doesn’t make sense – and added that Obama ought to be “working with Congress to secure our border and reform our immigration policy.” (Obama has done more to secure the border than any modern president, and Republicans refuse to compromise on reforming our immigration laws.)
Rhetoric notwithstanding, Democrats probably ought to be thrilled with this legislation. In fact, if Dems are very lucky, Schweikert’s proposal will become a top priority in the House and will soon reach the floor.
Consider the landscape: Republicans are alienating Latino voters in an election year, and the president’s proposal enjoys broad national support. If the House GOP seriously wants a debate over blocking Obama’s policy, I have a hard time believing Democrats would mind. Maybe Mitt Romney might even field a question or two about whether he supports his party’s bill.
Speaking of House Republicans, the House Speaker also weighed in this morning.
House Speaker John Boehner criticized the Obama administration’s immigration directive on familiar process-related grounds – having apparently forgotten that he’d quashed nearly all hope of getting the DREAM Act through Congress this year.
“It puts everyone in a difficult position,” Boehner complained at a press availability Tuesday, arguing that the administration’s unilateral move made reaching a bipartisan legislative solution more difficult.
More difficult than what? Before Obama’s move, Republicans refused to budge, making bipartisan legislative solutions impossible. After Obama’s move, Congress is still a mess, but 800,000 people will be better off.
So what is the Speaker complaining about? Remember, it was Boehner who told Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) not to even bother with a GOP-friendly, watered-down version of the DREAM Act because it couldn’t pass the House. For Boehner to now blame Obama for making a stagnant process more “difficult” seems rather silly.
That said, if Boehner and his party are serious, and want to restart talks about passing the real DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, I have a strong hunch the White House would welcome the conversation.