Here Comes the DACA Freakout

Hold onto your butts, political animals. If various reports are to be believed, the president is going to announce his executive action on immigration as early as next week. And from sea to shining sea, Republicans are working themselves up into a state of hysteria. It’s reasonably clear that making loud noises about the impending “standoff” or “crisis” or (to use Steve King’s typically restrained term) “constitutional crisis” is going to become an easy way for GOP pols tainted by past support for comprehensive immigration reform to cleanse themselves in the healing waters of feigned outrage. So I’d expect Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham (who, to the amusement of nearly everyone else on the planet, sees himself as a possible presidential candidate) to make themselves especially conspicuous in the freakout over an expanded DACA, just as Rick Perry did on the summer border refugee crisis.

If it were not such a serious matter, it might be fun to watch Republicans dance around the government shutdown threat their rhetoric logically implies. House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers bluntly warned his colleagues, “[D]on’t take a hostage you can’t shoot.” I suspect what annoys some of these birds is that executive immigration action could cut short the planned period of feigned interest in bipartisanship, and perhaps of some small but tasty concessions by Democrats, before gridlock resumes. Instead it’s likely to get noisy and crazy real fast.

The other problem for Republicans, of course, is that they really have nothing to offer on the immigration front at present other than inaction. Their current trajectory (and the experience of the last two years) suggests that if they ever achieve unity on the subject in the near future, it will be at a position significantly more hostile to comprehensive reform than anything Democrats can accept. But they can, obviously, unite in another bout of Obama-bashing, so that’s what we’ll get.

UPDATE: Originally missed this, but Greg Sargent had a useful prospective tick-tock last week on how the battle in Congress might roll out.

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.