Immigration and our Executive

In class this week, we spent a good amount of time discussing executive-legislative relations.  One of the issues we talked about was presidential influence – how much can the president influence the budget, the agenda, etc.  The president seems to be going public with the issue of immigration, calling upon conservatives to push for a vote before the end of the year.

According to the ever-credible Fox news, President Obama is meeting with and appealing to big companies to garner support for a vote to have Boehner bring immigration to a vote in the House.  There is worry that by courting these individuals, the president is splitting the conservative party into more moderate and comprising Republicans and more stubborn ones (the hazards of attempting to get something done in Congress).

One of the main players angry with the president on this is top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).  His main complaint is that this incoming non-American labor is taking jobs away from the American people (Sessions’s home state of Alabama has an unemployment rate lower than the national average).   He holds sway, however, and is being backed by other leading conservative Senators:

“They wrote in a letter earlier this year to the Congressional Black Caucus that granting legal status to illegal immigrants ‘will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages when they do obtain employment.’”

These leaders hold a lot of sway in the Senate as their parties leaders.  This will make bringing the bill to the floor of the House incredibly hard, knowing that, for House Republicans, their compromises will break party unity. 

Additionally, a main proponent for immigration in the House (Florida’s own GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart) is now saying that he does not believe that the House Republicans will be bringing immigration to the floor.  Diaz-Balart even extrapolates that, if not voted on by February or March, immigration will not be dealt with by this Congress because of the election cycle.  According to the Washington Post, “Diaz-Balart has been deeply involved in bipartisan negotiations over immigration for years now, and is thought to be in touch with House GOP leaders on the issue, so folks involved in the immigration debate pay close attention to what he says.” 

If this is not dealt with soon, it will begin to divide the Republican party within Congress further.  This separation between conservatives and moderates trying to create (or halt) legislation will effectively continue to hinder the legislative process as a whole, and not just with immigration.  And while this may have been instigated by President Obama placing pressure on Republican leaders and CEO’s (he offered up the idea of cutting the deficit by “$850 billion in the first 20 years and grow the economy by about $1.4 trillion over the same period”), executive pressure may be necessary in order for anything to get done in the legislature. 



4 responses to “Immigration and our Executive”

  1. legiprocess says :

    ‘They took our jobs’ is a familiar talking point, but it ignores two points; we have a dearth of skilled labor, and many of the jobs that immigrants take are ones that most Americans are unwilling to do. Providing a pathway to citizenship for say, H-2A agricultural workers, won’t bring about an economic collapse.

    – Will

  2. Maddie Josel says :

    I think it’s very interesting that President Obama chose this issue as one to go public with. My initial thoughts is that he’s trying to expose the split within in the Republican party, making them seem weak and organized going into elections in 2014. On the other hand, though, does this show that the President is unable to control Congress and has to garner support from big businesses just to bring a vote to the floor? I’m not really sure where I stand on this and what I actually think about it I just think these questions are interesting ones to think about.

  3. Kate says :

    I think Obama’s tactics represent a little bit of a departure from his tactics over the summer. Back then, his people were really worried about appearing to have their hands too much in the Senate negotiations for fear of angering Republicans. People have criticized him for being too hands off, but sometimes his agenda is better served by his staying out of the picture. I wonder why he has decided to be more vocal now, given how he’s dealt with the issue in the past.


  4. Jane L. says :

    What do you think the benefit is for the President to garner support for immigration reform from big business? Businesses do not vote, so I imagine that this tactic is about campaign contributions. If the President wanted immigration reform to gain more public attention and pressure members of Congress to support reform, wouldn’t he choose to go directly to the media? But if he wants to influence which PACs these large corporations support, this would be the more efficient route.

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