The president is all-in with his amnesty memos. He claims resources don't permit him to enforce immigration law, so he's bypassing Congress and the constitutional limits of his office by giving over 4 million illegal aliens work documents with the intention of making it politically impossible to ever return them home. No doubt this is not the end – there is more to come over the next two years.
Can't get what you want through Congress? Just change the law by yourself.
Aside from the obvious adverse economic impacts of adding over 4 million new people to the work-authorized labor force, let's look at the basic politics of the situation. What happens when one side is united and focused, while the other is jumbled and incoherent?
Obama is all-in, not just with his amnesty, but with people and organizations that work to destroy or undermine U.S. immigration controls. Moreover, there appears to be a wholesale shift within the Democratic Party away from any interest in controlling immigration in the future.
This is new. During most of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party had a strong impulse to protect American labor. Now, after thirty years of outsourcing jobs, that's all disappeared. Organized labor has virtually evaporated and so has that wing of the Democratic Party. In 2014, there seems to be unanimity among the Democrats that everyone who wants to come should be able to come. Of course this is with the expectation that a huge majority of new government dependent immigrants will vote for Democrats.
Let's compare that with Congressional Republicans. It's not even 2015 and already they are all over the map. It's not just that some Republicans are in the pockets of the Chamber of Commerce (though plenty are), it's that there is no core consensus on what is good public policy. Beyond "secure the border" (not a serious policy construct) and "more guest workers," there is no willingness to embrace the good ideas that are out there. Republicans can't even agree on how to define the problem. When you cannot agree on the problem, you can bet there's no consensus on solutions.
From the standpoint of power and predictive outcomes, it's easy to see where this is heading. Democrats are united and driven by a common goal: destroy America's immigration limits and controls regardless of the consequences for taxpayers, American students and working families.
Republicans are spooked by shadows and specters conjured up by pundits, consultants and certain key donors. "We need the labor," says one. "Can't offend Latino voters," another announces. "Don't want a shutdown – hurts the party," they say. "We can't make people who've broken our laws go back home – that would look bad." And so it goes.
Too many Republicans cannot grasp what is at stake here. They will not take the time to examine the serious policy issues in play. Others simply want to satisfy big donors' demands for more visas.
What we need to see from next year's House and Senate leadership is a five point program to get something done that responds to the threat we face as a nation. Here are some ideas:
• Repeal the unaccompanied minors' law that is being manipulated by smugglers to move Central Americans into our country illegally. (So far, all we see is funding to help it along.)
• Pass a law that both bars the explicit claim of deferred action and parole discretion asserted by the president and DHS, as well as their ability to issue work documents to those not in the country in a defined status (non-immigrant, refugee or permanent resident alien).
• Pass a mandatory e-verify bill for all employers and present it to the President.
• Pass an interior enforcement bill that unites state, federal, and local assets in immigration law enforcement.
• Begin drafting a meaningful bill to restore a functioning immigration control system that will redefine this debate away from "amnesty at all costs" to a serious effort that will restore public confidence that the Congress can set enforceable immigration limits.
Here's the axiom: A unified party will prevail over one that is jumbled and unfocused. For those of us hoping for a robust policy response from Congress, what we see so far disappoints. 2015 looks to be a rough ride.
Dan Stein is President, Federation for American Immigration Reform.