Yesterday evening, President Obama announced his executive order to (temporarily) reform(ish) immigration. Since then the GOP has been in a tizzy about what their response should be. Should they shut everything down as a form of punishment? Should they sue him? Should they just yell a lot? Republicans seem to agree that they are really angry at the President, but have no idea what to do about it. The possibilities are endless, but I think the best response is the one offered by long-time Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: Sit down, shut up and pass a better bill.
While it is the first official move on immigration reform in years, Obama’s executive order is a far cry from the huge amount of change necessary to truly reform America’s broken immigration system. Graham — despite his odd flaws — recognizes this, and wants the Republicans to avoid shutting down the government and instead do something useful.
“[The executive order] will not solve the problem,” he told NPR. “It will fall way short of what we need as a nation to solve the problem. It’ll be millions of people left out. The border will not be secured and the legal immigration system will be still substantially broken.”
Graham was one of the Republican cosponsors of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which the House never picked up and probably won’t ever pick up.
“He doesn’t have the legal authority to do, for example, everything that’s in the Senate bill,” Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC. “The President believes that we should provide a path to citizenship to people who are prepared to pay back taxes, get right with the law, learn English. That’s what was in the Senate bill. There are great limitations to what he might want to do that he can’t do under his executive authority.”
But instead of actually passing the Senate bill, many Republicans would prefer to bitch and moan about the President overstepping his authority. Productivity, evidently, is secondary to trying to make Obama look like an evil overlord out to destroy the country. But, Graham says, even if Obama did overstep his authority, there’s no reason that Republicans should shut down the government or attempt to impeach him.
“There is no reason that we should behave like a third grader because he does,” he said. “At the end of the day, we should pass a bill – a series of bills – that fixes a broken immigration system.”
But that’s not what others are advocating. Since the announcement was made, Republicans of all shades have been calling Obama a tyrant, an emperor, a king, and so on. At this point, it’s difficult to delineate which members are actually angry and which are just faking it for show — as has been the case with every “scandal” of the Obama administration — but their anger doesn’t seem to have translated into an actionable plan.
The only one that seems to have a plan is Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been spouting off his ideas since the announcement. Yesterday on Fox, he advocated a two-part system that included first, blocking every single legislative or judicial nomination made by the president and, second, using the “power of the purse” to limit “the power of the Congress and the power of the President to spend money on illegal amnesty.” It’s a pretty terrible plan that no one has yet to publicly endorse, probably because it would almost certainly lead to a government shut down. One that Cruz would then blame on Obama:
Listen, whatever happens you can rest certain the President is going to jump up and down, scream shutdown, shutdown, shutdown. It’s just like a year ago. That he is, he forced a shutdown a year ago. He wants a shutdown now.
Ted Cruz, everyone. Being delusional.
But since he’s the only one with a plan (aside from Lindsey Graham), the Republican Party looks disjointed and absurd. They are screaming, but have refused to agree on a plan for how to deal with immigration on their own. Now that Obama has forced their hand, they have few options other than scrambling around and making vague (probably empty) threats to shut everything down.
So instead of looking like dipshits for the next several months, let’s start advocating that Republicans listen to one of their own members and pass a better bill. They should pick up the bipartisan bill from the Senate and pass it. They should stop pretending to be super angry and get something done.
I realize that’s a lot to ask, but there is a bill ready and waiting for them should they actually want to fix a problem instead of just exacerbating it. I have (minimal) faith in you, GOP. You can do this. I promise.