An Obama executive action on immigration could impact midterms
July 29th, 2014
03:54 PM ET
2 months ago

An Obama executive action on immigration could impact midterms

Washington (CNN) – A possible move by Obama administration to single-handedly act on immigration reform before November's midterm elections could have major political consequences.

The White House could by the end of the summer use executive action to grant work permits to possibly millions of undocumented immigrants, multiple sources confirm to CNN. Such a move would legally allow such undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

The influx of Central American children trying to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S., many of them unaccompanied, has been a major media story over the past two months. The White House and many Democrats have clashed with Republicans in Congress and governors over who is to blame and what should be done about it. President Barack Obama has requested nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis on the southern border but a House Republican plan would provide less than a quarter of what Obama's asking.

Last month, Obama said he was starting "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress."

With the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed last summer by the Senate all but dead in the GOP-controlled House, Obama said that "if Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours," adding he expected the recommendations by the end of summer and would act on them without delay.

Asked about the reported proposal to give work permits to undocumented immigrants, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "What is underway right now is a review at the order of the President by the secretary of Homeland Security and the attorney general to consider what options are available to the President."

Earnest added that once that review is complete, "I anticipate that we'll have an announcement about steps that the President has decided to take to address some of these problems."

A large scale move by the White House on immigration could cause instant fireworks. Conservatives would yell "amnesty" - their interpretation of a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally - and the roster of Republicans calling for Obama to be impeached would surely increase.

Border crisis front and center in key Senate race

The move would have instant reverberations on the campaign trail, with one third of the Senate and the entire House being contested in November.

Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states. In the House, the Democrats would need to pick up an extremely challenging 17 Republican-held seats to win back the majority from the GOP.

Complete coverage of the 2014 midterm elections

Facing a lawsuit by House Republicans and calls for impeachment, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Maria Cardona said the President "at this point has nothing to lose and everything to gain."
"It will energize the base and will energize Latino voters - to what extent is the question but every little bit helps since there are enough eligible Latinos in enough swing districts that could register and vote - that could flip the House," Cardona said.

A larger turnout by Latino voters could be crucial, because a typical, smaller midterm electorate should favor Republicans. That's because minority voters such as Latinos, and younger people and single women, all of whom are big supporters of Democrats in presidential election years, tend to cast ballots in smaller numbers in the midterms.

Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ana Navarro disagreed with Cardona's assertion, saying the President is "in such a box" when it comes to immigration.

Border crisis impacts public opinion

"Politically, he's under huge pressure from immigration advocates and Latino leadership. Midterms are approaching and Hispanics, a key part of the Democrat coalition, are disillusioned and unmotivated. Obama has gone from 'President Si, se puede,' to the 'Deporter-in-Chief,' " Navarro said.

Longtime GOP consultant Alex Castellanos says an executive order by Obama could hurt fellow Democrats facing tough re-elections this year.

"If you are a Democrat in a swing district, Barack Obama has just made your life impossibly difficult, charging up your opponent's voters and giving him a couple of extra points in November," said Castellanos, who predicts a GOP wave in November.

"President Obama doesn't seem to care what he does to his own party. He seems to be willing to sacrifice the U.S. Senate and more seats in the House to make this a borderless country," added Castellanos, a CNN contributor.

Spike in importance of issue

The crisis on the nation's southern border appears to be fueling a notable shift in American attitudes toward immigration policy with border security growing in importance, according to a new national survey.

Key races to watch in 2014

According to a recent CNN/ORC International poll, 51% now say the government's focus on immigration policy should be formulating a plan to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants. Forty-five percent say the top priority should be developing a plan that would allow undocumented immigrants who have jobs to become legal residents. That's a change from February, when Americans said 54%-41% that legal status trumped border security.

Border crisis impacts public opinion

The attention the current crisis is receiving is also fueling a spike in those who say the issue's extremely important. Thirty-nine percent now say it's extremely important for the President and Congress to deal with illegal immigration, up 10 points from last year.

With all the attention now focused on the issue, any move by the President will be under the microscope.

CNN White House Correspondent Athena Jones and CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain contributed to this report

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Grown ups yelling at children is so republican.

    July 29, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    As long as Obama does the right thing, all will be fine. After all, no matter what, RWNJs will never be happy.

    July 29, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Is the reason that republicans don't like children is that the children are smarter than republicans?

    July 29, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. ED1

    Obama does have a pen and a phone and could care less about the American people who followed the rules.

    July 29, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Look at the Republican shrew finger pointing. All they can do is threaten, ridicule and bully. Vote them all out!

    July 29, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God"-Jesus Christ.

    July 29, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Mr. Balls

    The Democrats received about 1.5 million more votes in House races in 2012 and yet the Republicans are still in the majority. Unless there are enough Latinos in Red States it will be tough to oust Republicans in 2014.

    July 29, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. just asking

    why is that spanish woman sticking her finger in the face of an american citizen like that?

    July 29, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Klutch Cargo

    Humm,
    I think it is a forgone conclusion that Obama is going to lose the Senate as well as the house Load up those freight cars!!

    July 29, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The blonde lady is a better woman than me. I would break that itch bay's finger in three places if she put it in my face. I wouldn't even have to think about it, it would just be my reaction. Don't put your paws in my face or on my body.

    July 29, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Cover My Eyes.

    That good ole gal in the picture pointing her finger should know better. Those beer bellies in the picture need to cover up, OH my eyes y"all

    July 29, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Tony D

    I hope and pray that Obama does this. Obamacare torched the Democrats in 2010. This illegal move, Obamnesty (copyright pending), to give amnesty to illegals and declare our country has no borders will give the Republicans a super majority in the Senate and a massive majority in the House. Obama truly is the Messiah! Of the Republican Party!!

    July 29, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Work Permits? I don't like it. This is too close to amnesty and a free pass for my taste.

    July 29, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Say WHAT???

    Tampa Tim
    As long as Obama does the right thing, all will be fine.
    --

    Well, given his disastrous 5.5 year track record, we know that will not be the case. Democrats, time to start clicking those heels together and repeating "I want to go back to a very small minority in the Senate and House." Obama as the Wizard of Obumblia is about to make it happen.

    July 29, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Donna

    If Obama pulls his giant amnesty move, almost all of the Democrat Senators up for re-election in November will be gone, as will Harry Reid from Majority Leader! Please Obama, MAKE MY DAY!!!

    July 29, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Smitty

    @timmie get a life !! Your hero won BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR, the USA no longer has credibility anywhere thanx to Obumbles, enjoy what you voted for, which is failure on all fronts.

    July 29, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Gurgyl

    GOP is pretty much gone to dogs. Republicans never passed jobs-Bill, nor immigration reform.

    July 29, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Lizzie

    Tampa Tim
    Grown ups yelling at children is so republican.
    -apparently CNN does not have new picture, this is from weeks ago, but then you know that. How do you know that's a republican, is it written on her forehead.

    July 29, 2014 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Lizzie

    The GOP Solution, did you not write the same thing over and over again, or is that all you know. The only one that CUT SS is President Obama to fund ACA.

    July 29, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. rs

    Well, yes, one impact would be something would get done, something the GOP apparently is desperately afraid of despite all of their blather.

    July 29, 2014 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Chris..E.Al

    So 0bama is just going to let the millions of illegals compete with americans in a very challenging job market ? Thats not good ppl .

    July 29, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. CALIFORNIA

    Democrats have yet to pass anything but gas

    July 29, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. Ol' Yeller

    Finger in the face, angry look, surrounded by other angry looking rednecks with signs and Made in China American flags... yep, it is a republicant rally.
    Hating on something (someone), as always...

    July 29, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  24. rs

    Lizzie

    The GOP Solution, did you not write the same thing over and over again, or is that all you know. The only one that CUT SS is President Obama to fund ACA.
    _________________
    Now you're getting your lies confused. RWNJs say the President cut Medicare (he didn't really) to fund the ACA, not Social Security.

    July 29, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. Obviously Sniffin O'Buns in Tampa

    Obama is more than willing to reward illegal immigrants for breaking the law...
    Who is going to pay for it? The American tax payer.

    Award illegal immigramts with work permits?! What about the millions of US Citizens who are out of a job now?

    July 29, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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