The Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth on Obama backs off immigration pledge:
We don't know if it was the fear of impeachment or the fear of backlash for Democrats in the midterm elections that caused President Obama to hit the pause button on unilateral immigration reform.
Whatever the reason, the president was wise to back away from his pledge to issue an executive order that would further expand legal status to illegal immigrants.
The president, frustrated with Republican obstructionism on immigration reform, had said in late June that he would be bypassing Congress and issuing an executive order to get something accomplished in this arena by the end of the summer. He didn't specify at the time what specifically he was contemplating, but speculation was that it could shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.
Over the weekend, though, the president announced that he would not act by summer's end as he had promised but would instead wait until after the congressional elections in November. Although immigration groups are livid, some incumbent Democrats in Congress, in tough re-election races, have to be relieved. They already have enough worries trying to defend Obamacare and the general unhappiness with Washington without having another volatile issue thrown on their plates.
There was also speculation that such an executive order could prompt the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings on the grounds that the president was usurping the powers of the legislative branch. Obama can certainly advocate for immigration reform, but it's the prerogative of Congress, not the president, to write immigration law.
Who knows how such an impeachment proceeding might play out in the court of public opinion. It could energize the president's base to turn out for Democratic congressional candidates in the fall, but it also could backfire if the voters saw this as a cynical engineering of a constitutional crisis. The president, by delaying action, has silenced such speculation, at least for now.
It was a mistake by Obama to make his promise on immigration reform two months ago. It would have been more of a mistake to follow through on it.