Here's what President Obama had to say Wednesday about taking executive action, specifically on immigration.
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"I promise you, the American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs," he said.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama would take executive action to address the immigration crisis after the "legislative branch utterly fails to perform its basic responsibility."
But there is another, less fashionable way that the White House could achieve the immigration reform it desires, and enact the changes for which, we are told, the American people are clamoring: the election of a Democratic Congress in November. It really is that easy. And it's by far the least controversial means to enact the immigration policies the president and his party have been championing.
Why are you laughing? Because no one seriously expects that to happen? Or because there's no way that's going to happen?
Maybe there is a reason for that. Most Americans still do not view immigration reform as a top priority. According to a recent CBS News poll, the American people are almost twice as likely to view jobs and the economy—as opposed to immigration—as the most important problem facing the country. In fact, the only group who sees immigration as a more pressing issue are Republicans:
- Total: economy 22 percent, immigration 13 percent
- Republicans: economy 14 percent, immigration 18 percent
- Democrats: economy 26 percent, immigration 12 percent
- Independents: economy 22 percent, immigration 12 percent
Republicans are also the most enthusiastic about voting in the midterms. And on the issue of immigration, the American people don't seem particularly convinced that Democrats will do a better job handling the issue.
According to the poll, only 31 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of immigration, compared to 57 percent who disapprove. Independents disapprove by a 31-point margin (28 percent to 59 percent).
So, not only do Americans not seem passionate enough about immigration reform to come out and vote for Democrats in November, they don't seem particularly enthusiastic about the Democratic party's position on immigration to begin with. A recent CNN poll found that most Americans now think stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, as opposed to legalizing those already here, should be the "main focus" of the government's immigration efforts. The ongoing border crisis seems to have had a significant effect on public opinion, as the poll shows a 19-point swing on this question since February.
When it comes to the question of how to address the crisis of migrant children crossing the border, 50 percent of Americans think the children should be "returned to their home country as soon as possible," compared to 43 percent who think the children should remain in the United States and be processed by the court system.
Americans are even more likely to support legislation to streamline the deportation process in order to resolve the border crisis, something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has refused to consider. In this case, Democrats are the ones obstructing the will of the people.
The White House might have a point about executive action if the "basic responsibility" of Congress was to enact the policies favored by the president. If, on the other hand, you believe that Congress' primary responsibility is to represent its constituents, then it would seem that's exactly what Congress is doing on the issue of immigration, even if they look exceedingly dysfunctional in the process.
If the American people really do think comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority, there's a relatively simple way for them to make that happen. They can vote to elect a Democrat-controlled Congress. But they won't. And the White House and the media will continue to complain hysterically and wonder why Republicans have failed to act.