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Obama projects disarray among Democrats on Immigration Reform

President Obama during Aug. 2014 speech.
President Obama during Aug. 2014 speech.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Pres. Obama continues to confound and confuse Congress on both sides of the aisle over his intention to sidestep elected representatives and grant amnesty to as many as 11 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.

In June, from the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Obama took great pains to emphasize his emphatic decision to reform U.S. immigration policy to his personal liking by the end of the summer. Democrats, struggling to hang on to control over the U.S. Senate, were jarred by his announcement that could negatively affect their campaigns. A major change in policy weeks before midterm elections had Democrats grumbling and Republicans outraged.

Mr. Obama, who has vowed to govern through Executive Order, was adamant about his self-imposed summer’s-end deadline to turn immigration reform into a one-man show. "If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," he declared. "I expect ... recommendations before the end of summer and I intend to adopt those recommendations without further delay."

Nine weeks later, the president is no longer touting his right to conduct immigration reform through executive orders; instead Mr. Obama has turned noncommittal on the timing of immigration announcements, which has created an impression of disarray in the Democratic Party that he leads.

Polling shows that the American people clearly don’t want Democrats to make Immigration Reform a partisan affair, like they did Obamacare in 2010. However, many Democrats believe that granting partisan amnesty for some 11 million immigrants, most of them Hispanics, living in the United States illegally, would eventually be an electoral boom for their political party.

It is the president’s timing that Democrats object to. Mr. Obama can just as easily do whatever it is that he intends to do on a partisan basis after the November 4 midterm elections when the announcement would not affect their wobbling campaigns.

In the short term, Democrats fear a partisan act by the White House to reform immigration could be politically devastating and cost them control of the Senate. As it stands, the American people are against such a move by Democrats. For example, a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month found that 70-percent of Americans believed the immigrants threatened the country's beliefs and 63-percent that they burdened the economy.

While the long-term potential benefits of 11 million new voters would likely turn the tide of elections to benefit Democrats, it would be a heavy price to pay before the midterm elections. On the other hand, Democrats have been in control of the White House and Senate for six years and failed to get immigration reform done even in the two years that they had large majorities in the House and Senate. Therefore, if Obama doesn’t pull the trigger on immigration reform using executive orders, Democrats will have failed to carry through on immigration reform.

By announcing an end-of-summer deadline from the Rose Garden, only to waffle a couple of months later, pundits say Mr. Obama has merely called attention to Democrats' broken promise on Immigration Reform.