A few days ago, you received our special issue on the Immigration Accountability Executive Action (IAEA) – the broad plan announced by the President to address many problems in the immigration system. Over the next several months, we’ll be reporting on how those promises are being implemented. Some should start right away. Others require memoranda and regulations. The Administration put timelines on some and on others it is not clear how long they will take.
The public reaction to the President’s address has been relatively relaxed. Polls show – depending on how the question is asked and the polling company – either a split electorate all the way up to 72% considering the move either good or wishing the President had gone even further. And another poll showed Latino voters backing the move by 9 to 1. The polling numbers are important because they will likely affect what Republicans do to respond.
And what are the options available to Republicans. First, even though some of the programs are funded through fees, there is still a ramping up period that USCIS needs to go through and Congress could stop the program in its tracks if they completely cut off funds. The funding for the government is going to end in about two weeks and Congress has to pass a bill or the government will shut down. The internal debate going on in the Republican Party is a) how long to fund the government – for just a few months as the hardliners are insisting or for a full year as many of those in leadership wish to see. And will either bill contain provisions to cut off funding for IAEA?
Inclusion of a provision defunding IAEA would mean a virtually guaranteed government shutdown. IAEA will likely be President Obama’s signature accomplishment in his last two years in office and he would almost certainly veto a spending bill that tried to cut off funding for the program. And Republicans, despite their new majority in the Senate, do not have the votes to override that veto. And if the government shut down, I doubt the Republicans would be able to hold out longer than the President.
But that’s a pretty unlikely scenario anyway. If a shutdown pushed the country back in to a recession, Republicans would almost certainly take the blame. And if the GOP has any hope of keeping it’s Senate majority in 2016 (when it has a lot of seats to defend) and win back the White House, it’s going to want to avoid any risk of a backlash.
More likely, the Republicans will try to sue the President. Most legal experts think the President is on fairly safe ground here given the language of the Immigration and Nationality Act and the actions of prior Presidents. The President rejected a number of ideas that his staff vetted and determined might not withstand a court challenge as easily.
And there are some Republicans also urging their party to respond by passing legislation to address the problems in the immigration system. That would involve “piecemeal” lawmaking with multiple bills and would certainly not involve moving a single piece of comprehensive legislation. This is probably what many in the Republican leadership as well as some of the prospective presidential candidates would like to see. I would doubt anything like this will happen in the next three or four months. But just as there were many who insisted that the 2012 DACA program essentially “poisoned the well” and the Republicans were still able to make progress on their own bills, we could see something similar in 2015 or 2016 after the anger against the President over IAEA starts to subside.
For readers interested in learning more about IAEA, we’ve started a new section of our web site that will provide links to information on the program including government memoranda and original articles. Go to www.visalaw.com to learn more.
As always, we remind readers that we welcome new clients. You can schedule telephone or in person consultations with Siskind Susser attorneys and can arrange either by calling one of our offices or filling out the consultation request form at www.visalaw.com/consultation.
Disclaimer: This newsletter is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. Any reliance on information contained herein is taken at your own risk.