AUSTIN, Texas — After months of threatening to enact immigration reform on his own via executive order, President Barack Obama announced he had changed his mind on the issue in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that aired on Sunday. The announcement was a surprise to many observers, who had seen the President repeatedly attempt to leverage Congress into adopting the immigration reform proposals he favored. Obama’s expected plans had included temporary relief from deportation for millions and a significant expansion in the number of allowable work visas.
Back on June 5, Breitbart Texas’ Managing Director Brandon Darby first broke the story of how the UACs were surging across the border, and the humanitarian crisis created by their overwhelming numbers and lack of adequate facilities and resources to shelter and feed them. Leaked photos published by Darby of the UACs swept through the media, including mainstream and liberal outlets, leading to sharp backlash against vulnerable Democrats up for reelection, as well as Republicans who had taken more moderate stances on the issue. One such example was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who shockingly lost his primary election to a previously unknown challenger named Dave Brat.
The excuse Obama offered for his one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn was the political backlash from the tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children, or UACs, who had overwhelmed authorities as they surged across the border, and a recognition that the issue was an especially dangerous topic for Democrats fighting to keep majority control of the Senate.
“The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama told Todd.
The President’s announcement that he would hold off on granting amnesty was greeted, predictably, with derision by Republicans. “He’s just saying he’ll go around the law once it’s too late for Americans to hold his party accountable in the November elections,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement.
Liberal groups counting on Obama’s grant of amnesty had already begun making plans, and voiced their frustration at his delay. Angela Kelley, an immigration policy expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the White House, described the feeling as “sucker-punched,” and noted that many had viewed the “timetable for the end of the summer [as] really clear” to take action. Similarly, America’s Voice executive director, Frank Sharry, called it a “mistake” to have trusted Obama’s promises.
Border security expert and Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor Sylvia Longmire issued a statement about the reactions to Obama’s announcement, noting that this was an issue where likely everyone would be unhappy:
It’s hard to imagine that there are too many people happy with this announcement. The White House is saying it is delaying executive action to protect Democrats’ election chances in November, but those same Democrats could be hurt by Obama’s broken promises to enact some sort of immigration reform.
Illegal immigrants and activists are furious because they felt like they were finally seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Republicans are likely angry that Obama isn’t working to either reinforce border security measures or send a strong message to potential migrants that there’s no such thing as a free pass if you’re caught by Border Patrol.
Backing away from taking yet another controversial executive action is a positive step for Obama, but his tactics are demonstrating more concerns about political success than the safety of vulnerable migrants or the security of our borders.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.