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Is the White House Running From Plan B? Should it Show More Spine? By Roger Algase

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Disappointingly but not surprisingly, the White House is showing signs of running away from Plan B. i.e. legalizing up to 11 million unauthorized immigrants by executive order, just when starting to implement it incrementally (as I suggested in my August 16 post) would help thousands of people who deserve and urgently need relief from deportation right now. I will discuss this in more detail in my next post.

In his August 16 blog: Dems divided over immigration "Plan B"
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports that a behind the scenes argument is taking place among Democrats and immigration advocates over whether the White House should move toward Plan B in order to put pressure on House Republicans to enact comprehensive reform.

He writes:

"Some have pushed the Plan B idea in the media to increase pressure on Republicans to support legislative reform, by getting them to fear Obama would legalize the 11 million himself if they don't do it on their own terms. But others, including, sources say, the White House - think floating the idea is not only substantively absurd, but is also politically a mistake, because it only takes the pressure off Republicans on immigration by allowing them to slip back into the fight-Obama-tyranny-at-all-costs-mode."


Sargent explains further:

"But some inside the reform movement are calling on folks to shut up about this idea. It may be a non-starter to begin with. In political terms, the thinking is that the conservative backlash to reform has yet to materialize, and House Republicans are feeling pressure to act in a way they haven't in years. So it's folly to give GOP base voters who may not be all that worked up about immigration something to get genuinely excited about - a secret, dastardly Obama scheme - which also gives Republican lawmakers a way to claim the opposition can't be trusted and to slip into the anti-Obama battle mode."

Sargent also quotes Frank Sharry, head of America's Voice, a leading pro-immigrant organization, as follows:

"The White House is very unhappy with any mention of executive action...They're looking for a legislative victory and have no intent

ion of playing politics. The last thing they want is a distracting conversation about administrative action. They fear Republicans will think they're up to something when all they're up to is passing legislation."

Sargent quotes Sharry further:

"Most in the immigration reform movement are focused on one objective, which is passing legislation this year...Legislation is a permanent solution for millions. At best, executive action is only a temporary reprieve, and then only for some."

The above arguments may make sense, as conventional wisdom always does, but they also assume that there may still be a realistic chance of eventually persuading a majority of House Republicans to go along with legalization. Speaker Boehner has made clear numerous times that without support from a "majority of the majority", no bill that incudes legalization will ever come to the floor of the House. There is no reason not to take him at his word.

Moreover, House Republicans are reluctant to pass any reform measure which could go to a Senate-House conference. Some optimists, anxious to put a positive spin on all this, argue that maybe there will be some movement in the House in January (when the distraction of 2014 election campaign will already be well under way) if not this October, that a few Republican Congressmen here and there may be willing to meet with immigration supporters, that there may be fewer angry CIR opponents going to town meetings this month than there were ACA opponents going to meetings in 2010, etc.

But what if this is all just grasping at straws? As of mid-August, 2013, legalization shows every sign of being on life support in the House, which might better be called a Hospice as far as immigration reform is concerned.

What have immigration reform supporters actually gained from their strategy of conciliation, compromise and consent to let their opponents call most of the shots? The Senate has passed a bill which, while including legalization and a path to permanent residence and citizenship which resembles Odysseus' 20-year trip home to Ithaca in many respects, also contains a number of features which represent real steps backward toward a racially discriminatory immigration past, such as eliminating sibling and diversity green cards, not to mention imposing onerous new H-1B restrictions.

But even this imperfect bill has been treated with nothing but contempt and derision by the House majority, which is insisting on enforcement first before there can be any real movement to reform. Maybe it is time for America's Deporter in Chief to show a little more spine and begin to implement Plan B now or in the very near future if the House continues along its current path of letting CIR die a slow death. I will suggest one way to begin implementing Plan B in a way that might attract the least amount of backlash and provide the best chance of withstanding any legal challenge in an upcoming comment.

The link to Sargent's article is:

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/08/16/dems-divided-over-immigration-plan-b/?print=1

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Updated 08-19-2013 at 06:29 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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