Immigration is Obama’s last chance to prove his entire legislative game plan wasn’t deeply misguided

One would think that after preemptive compromising failed to win over Congressional Republicans for health care reform, debt ceiling, grand bargain, and Bush tax cuts President Obama would give up on the strategy — but he is going to give it one last go.  He is going to make more undocumented immigrants suffer in an attempt to make the Republicans happy. From the LA Times:

President Obama will not make changes to the nation’s deportation system for at least two months in order to give House Republican leaders more time to search for votes for an overhaul of immigration laws, administration officials said Wednesday.

Obama asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to delay completion of a formal review of the deportation system until Congress adjourns in August, giving the House time to consider legislative action before Washington is consumed by the fall election campaigns, the officials said.

The move is disappointing but not surprising given both how much Obama has already invested in this strategy for immigration and how much his legacy depends on making it work.

Obama’s main strategy for dealing with Republicans was to constantly prove he was the most “serious” and reasonable person in the room by preemptively given them what they wanted, or embracing their positions. He seemed to believe his commitment to hippy-punching seriousness would be magically rewarded; instead it just depressed the base and gave the GOP things to use against Democrats.

Immigration is really the last chance to prove his entire legislative game plan wasn’t deeply misguided. Obama has already allowed historic levels of deportations under his watch for years to try to convince Republicans to back immigration reform, so from his perspective a few more months of bad policy probably seems like a small price.

It is not good policy, compassionate or likely, but Obama committed to it.

Photo by David Sachs/SEIU used under Creative Commons license