Immigration Apocalypse Now

In discussions of the president’s decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the elections, one variable has been the extent to which Republicans allow him to do so. For one thing, they may make his pending action a sufficiently central campaign issue that he has to address it definitively now, even if he intends to wait until December to implement his plans.

But then it also remains likely that Republicans will accelerate the debate by seeking to withdraw authorization for DACA (and any DACA expansion) before November 4. And once that’s in the air, what’s to keep someone from attaching that legislation to a must-pass vehicle? You know, someone like Ted Cruz (per this report from The Hill‘s Alexander Bolton):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Tuesday that legislation to freeze President Obama’s executive order deferring the deportations of illegal immigrants who come to the country at a young age should be attached to a stopgap spending measure.

Setting up a possible confrontation over the funding measure that would keep the federal government open beyond September, Cruz declined to rule out opposing the stopgap bill if it allows the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue.

“I think we should use any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty. Certainly I think it would be appropriate to include in the [continuing resolution] but I think we should use every tool at our disposal,” Cruz said.

But Cruz is not, of course, calling for a “government shutdown.”

Cruz, however, declined to say whether he would urge House conservatives to oppose the stopgap funding measure if it did not include language freezing deferred action on illegal child migrants.

“I have a habit of waiting to actually see what’s in legislation before I make a decision whether I will support or oppose it,” he said.

It’s a very fine line between precipitating a government shutdown to make a pending presidential action a preeminent midterm campaign issue, and deliberately pursuing a course of action that could make a shutdown possible, even if Cruz’s intention is to get to the brink, pull back, and then accuse Obama of trying to shut down the government. Personally, I don’t trust Ted Cruz or about half the GOP House Conference to safely play with this kind of fire. Does anyone?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.