The Hill: President Not Planning Administrative Version of CIR

Last spring, after the collapse of the Schumer-Graham attempt to forge a bipartisan CIR bill, Senators Reid, Schumer, and Menendez announced that they had their own plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. Over the summer, as it appeared increasingly unlikely that CIR would ever be considered in the current Congress, it looked like President Obama might order administrative changes in an attempt to remedy – albeit unilaterally – the problems plaguing our immigration system. Not so fast, said Senator Charles Grassley, who joined several Senate colleagues in a letter to the President, demanding to know whether his administration was planning some kind of amnesty to undocumented immigrants, in advance of the fall elections. (See Obama Administration Exploring Administrative Alternatives to CIR, MurthyBlog, 09.Aug.2010.) To prove this was no mere “fishing expedition,” Senator Grassley released an internal draft memorandum from the USCIS, which discussed policy options for administrative immigration reforms that could be undertaken even if Congress failed to act.

In reading the tea leaves of recent pronouncement by the President, a leading legislative newspaper, The Hill, concludes that Mr. Obama has abandoned plans to fix the immigration system by purely administrative means. (See Obama Declines Using Administrative Action to Push Immigration Reform,” by Michael O’Brien, The Hill, 22.Sep.2010.) The Hill quoted the President’s recent interview with the Spanish-language Telemundo network, in which he reportedly acknowledged the need for immigration reform to go through Congress, saying, “You know, it is a very difficult thing to do administratively, and because we want comprehensive reform, and because we want the DREAM Act, what we don’t want to do is give an excuse to the opposition to say, ‘Obama’s trying to do an end-run around Congress.'” According to The Hill, the President also told Telemundo that the DREAM Act was not likely to be enacted before the mid-term elections this November.

One can only wonder about the likelihood that CIR will be addressed after these elections. If CIR bogs down again in the new Congress, perhaps the administration will dust off its administrative options memo, and push ahead on its own. Stay tuned.

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