President Obama may accept the Boehner challenge to tackle immigration on his own

House Republicans:  “We’re going to sue you, Obama, for being a tyrannical, imperial president, for all this unprecedented executive overreach.”

President Obama:  “Sure, whatever, let me just get my pen here and sign another executive order helping immigrants while you guys are sitting on your asses on vacation.”

Said Bill Rosenberg, professor of political science at Drexel University:

“Barack Obama is never running for political office again. He’s in a position to do what he thinks is right or politically expedient, or both.”

True that.  President Obama doesn’t have to face another election.  He can, perhaps for the first time since he’s been in office, spend his energy on pet projects and policies that have been senselessly and needlessly blocked by Republicans out of nothing more than petty vengeance and spite.  As reported by msnbc.com, President Obama is looking for ways to double down on his 2012 executive order allowing the “DREAMers” – immigrants brought to the U.S. as children – to stay in this country without fear of deportation.  This time, he’s hoping to help “as many as 5 to 8 million undocumented immigrants” currently living in the U.S.  And he appears to be keen to accept House Speaker John Boehner’s challenge for the President to act unilaterally on immigration.

Of course, despite the fact that President Obama has deported more than a million undocumented immigrants (which has even earned him the not-so-fond nickname “Deporter-in-Chief” from the left), right-wing conspiracy theories abound on why President Obama is contemplating these steps on behalf of undocumented immigrants:  He’s personally sneaking into the U.S. tens of thousands of refugee children to create a new generation of voting Democrats; he’s hoping to create tot-size armies to take over the country and drum Republicans out; he’s trying to bait Republicans into impeachment proceedings – because something.

Here’s a one-word theory that explains everything:  Compassion.

It’s not like President Obama’s efforts on behalf of undocumented immigrants are unprecedented – and, in fact, the lawsuit Republicans intend to bring against the President is not for executive overreach on immigration.  Reagan, by executive order, eased immigration standards for a couple hundred thousand fleeing Nicaraguan refugees; President Bush Sr. halted deportation of Chinese students for four years; Clinton aided Salvadoran immigrants by delaying their deportation; George W. took all kinds of actions, including signing the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (which Republicans now seek to roll back), signing an executive order granting 150,000 Salvadorans the right to remain in the country after an earthquake, and a year later signing another one which sped up naturalization proceedings for green card holders who’d enlisted in the military and eliminated the three-year waiting period.  The difference, some say, is the “emergency” nature of past presidents’ executive orders on immigration, unlike President Obama’s “blanket” relief for the Dream’ers and what he’s contemplating at present – but that’s hogwash.  To many of us, 57,000 Central American children fleeing gang warfare and even death is what is commonly known as an “emergency.”  And, in this country, undocumented immigrants are under constant scrutiny and even danger from weekend warriors who patrol the border and racially profile at the behest and with the approval of Republican lawmakers.  Some action needs to be taken to protect both those who flee their dangerous home countries to come here for sanctuary, and those who are already here, contributing to the nation in a myriad of ways.

Despite Republican hysteria, President Obama can’t simply give green cards or grant citizenship to millions of immigrants – he has limitations in what he can do.  But it’s within his executive power to defer deportation proceedings, which would allow immigrants to, at least temporarily, work in the U.S. – and in the process, he might ease the tension between him and pro-immigration activists, who have been less than happy with his record deportations.  According to Kamal Essaheb, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, President Obama’s problems are more political than legal.

The legal case is pretty clear . . . As long as we’re in the realm of enforcement of immigration laws and prioritization, the president can do a lot more than what he’s doing today.

It seems fairly clear that President Obama isn’t going to let petty politics get in his way – as he said, “They’re [House Republicans] not even trying to actually solve the problem.”  President Obama has spent six years in a damned-if-he-does/damned-if-he-doesn’t position.  At this juncture, he’s stubbornly refusing to let Republicans compromise his ability to legally take executive action to help, where he can.

Said Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration reform group:

He’s going to go for it . . . He is going to be rolling a hand grenade in the middle of American politics that is going to explode. It is going to have untold effects on the midterm. I think he is going to do it before the midterm. It is going to have a huge impact on 2016. But I actually think he is playing to history more than the immediate politics.

Sometimes you just have to say WTF, and this appears to be President Obama’s WTF moment.  He won’t squander it waiting for House Republicans to get back in town and work on their next wave of obstructionist tactics.

As for the lawsuit . . . well, President Obama is tipping his hat, giving Republicans a big wave, and saying, “How do you like me now?”

Refugees II