Responding to the President's Immigration Fiat, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon on September 25, 2014

The Obama administration will field a formidable array of political resources to rationalize and legitimize the president's forthcoming executive immigration amnesty. Those who oppose his executive order will have nowhere near the president's resources and thus will begin with a decided disadvantage.

In that sense it will be round two of another immigration "David vs. Goliath" fight, the first one having been won by House Republican Davids who managed to stop the "comprehensive reform" juggernaut that reached its culmination with the passage of the massive 2013 Senate Democratic immigration legislation.

That fight was fought on different grounds than the executive actions fight will be fought. Broadly speaking, the difference will be a fight that was won by doing nothing versus a fight that can only be won by doing something.

I'm aware that House Republicans did a lot more than "doing nothing". They enlisted help from Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) and others to educate their House colleagues on the real nature of the Senate bill. House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) educated his colleagues by taking a step-by-step approach and holding hearings. And rank-and-file Republicans who opposed the Senate bill were insistent that the House not be stampeded into passing any bill so that they could have something to show to those whose panic strategy appeared to boil down to "Do something! Anything!" They also made it clear to the House Republican leadership that they were very serious about not being traduced into supporting a conference version of the Democratic bill.

That acknowledged, the House's major contribution was to keep the Senate bill from becoming law. And to accomplish that required them to resist enormous pressure and not acquiesce to the siren calls for them to surrender, in some form, to the premises of Washington's narrow and self-serving "elite" immigration consensus — millions more new immigrants and legalization of illegal migrants first, border security upgrades sometime thereafter, maybe.

The president's forthcoming executive immigration amnesty will play on substantially different ground — a political canvas focused on three major players: the president, the American public, and Congress.

The key to the fate of the president's actions will, to a degree, pass out of his hands and into the public arena once he issues the orders. He will, of course, announce and defend his actions in a public address. He will be asked about it in news conferences and interviews and will be prepared with well-rehearsed talking points in response. His supporters in and out of Congress will echo and embellish his rationales.

All of these efforts will be focused on trying to win over the public and though them to put pressure on Congress not to take any actions that would de-legitimize or administratively undermine his effort.

If the president can't get support, he will aim for acceptance.

If he can't get acceptance, he will certainly settle for acquiesce.

It is important that opponents of the president's executive immigration amnesty keep in mind that once the president issues his orders, whatever their nature and scope, it is a done deal from his standpoint:

  • He will not tell the public and especially Republicans what he plans to do in advance.
  • He will not revise his executive actions once he announces them.
  • He will not rethink the personal and political calculations that led him to issue them, although with enough concerted effort before hand, he might narrow them.
  • He will not listen to anguished or angry cries of lawlessness.

Once the president issues the order he will not, cannot, retreat.

Over to you Americans and Republicans.

Responding to the President's Immigration Fiat, Pt. 1

Responding to the President's Immigration Fiat, Pt. 2

Next: Responding to the President's Immigration Fiat, Pt. 4