It would be one thing if the G.O.P. genuinely didn’t think anything should be done about the current crisis: Then they could stand by their inaction on principle and blast the president for making extralegal moves. But the party’s official (and correct!) position is that we need more funding for immigration enforcement, both in the context of the current inflow and more generally, and that the Wilberforce Act’s guarantee of hearings should not be applied to most of today’s child migrants. Regardless of what the president does or doesn’t do, I just don’t see what Republicans lose from passing legislation that reflects both positions: If the president fails to execute it faithfully or if it ends up amended in some counterproductive way, they can attack the White House and the Democrats for that, without carrying the burden of looking like do-nothings who are weirdly demanded more of the kind of executive “creativity” they officially oppose.
But Ted Cruz is now pushing for any legislative response to the border crisis to include language ending the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Sargent comments on what this means for the prospects of Congressional action, as well as for the GOP’s public image:
Ted Cruz is essentially calling on Republicans to formalize in their legislative response to the crisis what is already their actual position on immigration in general. (House Republicans already voted in 2013 to end DACA.) And not only that, National Review reports that more and more conservatives are now giving voice to the Cruz stance, arguing that Republicans must not offer any legislative response to the crisis because Obama’s “amnesty” for the DREAMers proves he cannot be trusted to work with them even on the current border debacle.
In the short term, this Cruz gambit could make it tougher for John Boehner to get any border bill through the House, and increasingly reliant on Dems to do so. But beyond this, it’s a reminder that even if the crisis is very tough politics for Obama and Dems, it is also putting Republicans in a terrible position, dramatizing that they have only moved further to the right on immigration since their 2012 loss led to a big round of soul searching about how to broaden the party’s appeal beyond core constituencies.
Weigel theorizes as to why Cruz would throw such a bomb, knowing that a bill ending DACA has no real chance of passing Congress:
Well, Cruz believes in it, and as far as he’s concerned it focuses the blame for the current crisis on DACA. A worried House Republican aide (remember, lots of these people still sort of want the House to pass an immigration bill before the election) tells Joel Gerkhe that Cruz’s bill “could look like an overreach, particularly given how the mainstream media will distort it.” But Cruz has previously found that the media’s coverage of his effort bounces right off of Republican voters. He has been able to spin the 2013 Obamacare funding fight not as a tragic own goal on the GOP, but as the very reason Obamacare riled the 2014 electorate. It’ll be dead easy to tell Texas (and Iowa) crowds that he wanted to kill the border crisis at the root, but mushy Republicans failed to stand with him.
Allahpundit, in character, is disappointed that Cruz only wants to end DACA going forward, rather than repeal it entirely and re-outlaw the immigrants who have already benefited from the program. He sees that as a political choice, too:
If you already qualify for amnesty under DACA, you get to keep your amnesty. This is all about ending eligibility for future illegals, not taking it away from people who already have it. That makes sense in light of what I said above. Cruz wants to show that he’s tougher on illegal immigration than his GOP rivals but not so tough that he’s a punching bag for “YOU HATE CHILDREN!” attacks from the left. He’s willing to let children currently involved in the program keep their eligibility. Which makes this a miniature version of comprehensive immigration reform: So long as future waves of illegals are turned away, the ones who are already here enjoy legalization.