Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Veto gives Pres Obama edge on immigration

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas last Friday.-AP

WASHINGTON (AP):United States President Barack Obama has the upper hand in the fierce struggle over immigration now taking shape, with a veto pen ready to kill any Republican move to reverse his executive order, Democrats united behind him and GOP congressional leaders desperate to squelch talk of a government shutdown or even impeachment.

With the public favouring changes in the current immigration system, the Republicans' best short-term response appears to be purely rhetorical: that the president is granting amnesty to millions, and exceeding his constitutional authority in the process.

Beyond that, their hopes of reversing his policies appear to be either a years-long lawsuit or the 2016 presidential election.

Neither of those is likely to satisfy the tea party adherents in Congress - or the Republican presidential contenders vying for support among party activists who will play an outsized role in early primaries and caucuses just over a year away.

"We alone, I say it openly, we the Senate are waiting in our duty to stop this lawless administration and its unconstitutional amnesty," said one of them, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. In remarks on the Senate floor, according to his office, he was channelling Cicero, the ancient Roman orator.

In a portion of the oration that Cruz did not mention, Cicero referred to a Roman Senate decree calling for a conspirator against the Roman republic "to be put to death this instant."

More than 2,000 years later, impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate stand as the sole established remedy against high crimes and misdemeanours by any president.

NOT HAVING IT

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate leader Mitch McConnell want none of that. Nor are they interested in provoking a government shutdown as a way to block spending needed to carry out Obama's order, viewing that as a poor way to embark on a new era of Republican control of Congress.

"We're considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act," said McConnell, who will become majority leader when his party assumes control of the Senate in January.

Led by Boehner, House Republicans last Friday filed a lawsuit accusing Obama of abusing his authority in the implementation of the health care law. Officials say the immigration executive order could be added, but it is unclear how long a final judgment might take or who will be sitting in the Oval Office when it does.

The political debate is well under way, although the two parties seem to be appealing to different segments of the electorate. Polls show that the country as a whole and especially Hispanics favour allowing immigrants to remain in the country and work even if here illegally. Conservatives tend to prefer deportation.