President Barack Obama's plan to sign an executive order on immigration this week will result in political fireworks that could affect both parties' strategies — not only with the upcoming Congress, but into the 2016 elections and for years after that.
Republicans are saying that if Obama continues with his plan to allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, it will be "the equivalent of giving the middle finger to their incoming majority," writes The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza in his "The Fix" blog
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has termed Obama's plan to sign the
order before the current lame-duck session ends as "waving a red flag in front of a bull," and House Speaker John Boehner has said Obama will only "burn himself" with an executive order.
Obama's plans will kill much hope of bipartisan cooperation between himself and Republicans come January, Cillizza writes, adding that Obama believes the chances were so low that such cooperation would exist that he decided to take the gamble.
Obama is also likely making a political calculus for his own party, as he postponed signing the executive action until after the midterm elections after Democratic senators seeking re-election worried the move would hinder their chances of defeating Republican challengers.
Republicans slammed his decision to delay the executive action with House Speaker John Boehner, charging in September that the about-face
"smacks of raw politics."
But even with Obama's delay, Democrat Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas; Mark Udall of Colorado; and Mark Begich of Alaska all lost their bids, and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu may also lose her runoff election next month.
By signing the order, Cillizza writes, Obama could become the first president to legalize immigration for millions of people and help cement his second-term legacy.
Democratic strategists, meanwhile, are hoping congressional conservatives will object to Obama's move so strongly that it will damage the GOP's brand with Hispanics and help the party build momentum as the presidential election season advances and possibly even cement the Democrat Party as the favorite for Hispanic voters.
However, Hispanic activists were angered by Obama's decision to delay executive action
, and accused Obama of playing politics with Latino interests.
All the same, Hispanics voted 62 percent to 38 percent for Democratic House candidates in this year's midterm elections, reports the Post.
And when Mitt Romney lost the presidential race in 2012, the Republican National Committee commissioned a report and determined that it would need to embrace comprehensive immigration reform or continue to only get votes from its core constituents.
"Obama is moving a major chess piece on the board with his planned executive order," Cillizza concludes. "Republicans must be careful with their countermove. It will have implications that last well beyond 2014 — or even 2016."
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