Republicans weigh counter-strategy options.
Republicans in Congress are struggling to put together a strategy to combat President Obama's expected unilateral immigration amnesty as the administration moves closer to pulling the amnesty trigger by year's end.
Their deliberations came as Vice President Joe Biden met Saturday with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren. One of the topics was how to facilitate even more immigration from those poor Third World countries to the United States.
Biden said next month the U.S. would create what the White House called "an in-country refugee/parole program in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, to allow certain parents who are lawfully present in the United States to request access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for their children still in one of these three countries."
Although fighting President Obama's unprecedented threatened power grab by allowing a shutdown of the federal government is a possibility, Republican lawmakers acknowledge they haven't warmed to the idea.
"It doesn't solve the problem," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said on "Fox News Sunday."
"But look, we're having those discussions... We're going to continue to meet about this. I know the House leaders are talking about, the Senate leaders are talking about it," he said. "Republicans are looking at different options about how best to respond to the president's unilateral action, which many people believe is unconstitutional, unlawful action on this particular issue."
On ABC's "This Week" House Deputy Majority Whip Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was cool to the idea of a shutdown. "I think the president wants a fight. I think he’s actually trying to bait us into doing some of these extreme things that have been suggested. I don’t think we will."
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) is opposed to a shutdown. "There’s a wide diversity of thought as to how effective that would be," he said. A shutdown "is not a good solution."
One of the less appealing suggestions is to sue Obama. There is a huge problem with legal standing and is it by definition an abdication of the constitutionally-stipulated power of the purse held by Congress. Lawmakers don't have to go to court to stop Obama.
Many House conservatives want Congress to ban the funding needed to implement Obama's executive amnesty. Others would attempt to keep the agencies implementing the amnesty on a short leash by appropriating funding for them on a short-term basis, theoretically allowing them to withhold immigration funds without shutting down the government.
"The power of the purse is what's given to the House," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). "That’s the check that we have against the White House. To the extent that that's the lever we have, that's the lever we'll use."
Most elected Republicans still seem blissfully unaware that the the last shutdown in October 2013 was an unmitigated public relations success for Republicans even though it might not have felt that way at the time. Setting aside the relentless media propaganda that falsely painted the shutdown as a massive Democratic tactical victory, the episode sent the unmistakable message that GOPers were champions of freedom of choice in health care.
The shutdown boosted GOP public approval numbers all the way through the election this month, helped to revive the fight against Obamacare as millions of Americans were having their health insurance policies abruptly canceled, and helped to set the stage for the Republicans' historic trouncing of the Democrats in congressional elections. The shutdown was an extended, cost-free infomercial for the GOP that reminded Americans that Republicans were on their side on an issue that mattered to them. In other words, it derailed what had seemed like an unstoppable leftist narrative that the always-unpopular Obamacare was a done deal and that resistance to it was futile.
Those gun-shy Republicans who oppose a government shutdown at all costs are never quite able to explain why, if the shutdown was so bad for the GOP, Republicans are now on the march.
On Nov. 4 the GOP flipped control of the 100-seat U.S. Senate, winning at least 53 seats as of this writing. The House GOP increased its majority, winning at least 244 out of 435 seats. In the new year Republicans will control at least 31 state governors' mansions and at least 68 of the 99 state legislative chambers across the country (Nebraska's legislature has only one chamber). In at least 23 states Republicans will control the governorship and both houses of the state legislature. Democrats can make the same claim about only 7 states.
Republican leaders have been talking out of both sides of their mouths on the amnesty issue for months.
Acting unilaterally on immigration would be "a big mistake" akin to "waving a red flag in front of a bull," McConnell said. Such action "poisons the well for an opportunity to address a very important domestic issue."
But McConnell also said he's not willing to use Congress's spending power to stop amnesty. Right after the election he seemed adamant that he would not abide a government shutdown.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose speakership is likely to be challenged by conservative lawmakers in January, also said unilateral action would "poison the well." Boehner warned Obama, "when you play with matches, then you take the risk of burning yourself, and he's going to burn himself if he continues to go down this path.
On the weekend Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed that planning for Obama's executive amnesty, along with other changes to the immigration system, is almost complete.
"We’re in the final stages of developing some executive actions," Johnson said. "We have a broken immigration system. The more I delve into it, the more problems I see."
Of course, it is a leftist lie to say that the immigration system is broken. When progressives say the system is broken, they mean it is functioning in a less than optimal manner, failing to capture every single prospective illegal alien welfare case available to wade across the Rio Grande or walk across the nation's largely undefended border with Mexico. To them, immigration policy is a taxpayer-subsidized get-out-the-vote scheme for Democrats and the best reform they could imagine would be to abolish America's borders altogether.
The system is doing what it was designed to do: Flood America with people who don’t share Americans’ traditional philosophical commitment to the rule of law, limited government, and markets, in order to force changes in society. The radicals’ goal today is to use immigration to subvert the American system, just as it was in the 1960s when the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) shepherded leftist reforms of that era’s immigration laws through Congress.
The current immigration system is congested, overwhelmed, and under attack by the sheer volume of illegal aliens that Democratic policies have been bringing to the U.S. The problem isn't so much the legal regime governing immigration but the years of non-enforcement at the border, coupled with Obama's brazen attempts to recruit illegals from Latin America, luring them with promises of government largesse such as food stamps.
Most analysts haven't noted that if Obama acts unilaterally on immigration, he is likely to do long-term damage to the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party. The voters of Oregon, a longtime Democrat stronghold, delivered a stark warning on illegal immigration to the president's party in the election a fortnight ago.
Even as Oregonians easily approved Measure 91, a ballot proposition legalizing possession, cultivation, and recreational use of marijuana, and added to Democrat majorities at the state level, they overwhelmingly rejected Measure 88 which would have sustained a state law giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens.
The vote to legalize pot was 55.6 percent in favor to 44.4 percent against but the vote to overturn the statute providing driver's licenses was a lopsided 66.4 percent to repeal compared to just 33.6 percent to uphold the law. The statute was approved last year without much opposition by state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
As of a month ago, the illegal alien lobby had outspent the other side by a 10-to-1 margin.
"It was really the epitome of a grassroots effort," Cynthia Kendoll, an activist for the successful "No" side told reporters. "There's such a disconnect between what people really want and what's happening."
Mark Krikorian of the respected nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies said the thumping voters gave Measure 88 was proof that the groups supporting endless accommodations for the illegal aliens invading this country are hopelessly out of touch. "It really highlights how this issue is not a Republican-liberal issue like, say, taxes and abortion, but an up-down issue, elites versus the public."
As if on cue, left-wing elitist Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress (CAP), dropped by to smear those who voted against Measure 88 as racist, monobrowed, dimwits.
"Is there an instinct toward security, hunkering down and against welcoming the other?" Fitz said. "That's part of human nature. But that doesn't mean instincts can't be overcome by reason."
Decent, patriotic Americans are infuriated by the kind of smugness and condescension exuded by open-borders radicals like Fitz and Obama who glibly equate opposition to illegal immigration to xenophobia and racism. They are intensely angered when they are told by the leftists of the media day in and day out that if you support enforcement of immigration laws you're a bad person. The accusation grates because Americans are among the most tolerant and generous in the world, and beyond any doubt the most accepting of immigrants.
People like Fitz and his former boss CAP founder John Podesta, who is now a senior advisor in the Obama White House, seem unable to fathom just how disgusted law-abiding Americans, including legal U.S. immigrants, are by illegal immigration and the coddling and granting of special privileges to illegals.
The issue of illegal immigration isn't a powder keg ready to blow both major political parties to bits. It's more like a stage coach in an old Western movie loaded with liquid nitroglycerin. One bad bump on the road and -- kaboom! -- those guiding it across the frontier are vaporized. Obama's hugely unpopular executive amnesty threatens to render Democrats a spent force for decades. Whether Republicans will be smart enough to stay clear of the Obama-created debacle-in-waiting remains to be seen.