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“Marco Rubio’s Mad Rush To The Right Continues”: On The First Day In Office, My True Love Gave To Me…

From the outset of the 2016 campaign, Marco Rubio has tried to adopt a clever straddle on immigration. He has edged towards the hard line stances of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, while carefully keeping the door ajar to re-entering in the general election as the GOP’s Great Hispanic Hope, the candidate whose background and relative moderation on the issue would allow him to solve the GOP’s demographic woes.

Rubio may have just slammed that door shut — or, at least, made it a whole lot harder for himself to pull off this long planned reentry.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Rubio clarified that on Day One of his presidency, he will end President Obama’s executive action protecting the DREAMers — people brought here illegally as children — from deportation.

In the interview, Rubio was asked to respond to Ted Cruz’s ongoing insistence that Rubio has not said clearly that he would end Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on Day One, something Cruz has repeatedly said he would do. To buttress his point, Cruz has cited an interview Rubio gave to Univision in which he said DACA would have to end at some point, while saying he “wouldn’t undo it immediately,” and keeping his timeline vague. Asked for comment, Rubio replied:

“Right after that interview, Univision reported that I said that DACA has to go away, and that it will. I will on my first day in office get rid of it because it’s unconstitutional. I was against it when the president did it. I remain against it now. It cannot be permanent policy. And I’ve said that repeatedly.”

So there you have it. Under President Rubio, hundreds of thousands of people would lose their temporary reprieve from deportation — and the other benefits of DACA, such as work permits — on the first day of his presidency.

It’s important to understand that this has serious substantive significance. It’s true that Rubio has repeatedly said, albeit vaguely, that under his presidency, DACA would end eventually. (See this Politifact article documenting his repeated statements to this effect.) But saying you’ll end DACA on Day One — as Rubio has now done — is very, very different from this. That’s because DACA is granted in stints of several years; it needs to be perpetually renewed over time by the president. The pledge to end it immediately is a flat out promise not to renew it, and to cancel it on a hard date. The president has the authority to do this, since the original grant was done by executive action. And it would mean instant disruption.

Indeed, Rubio himself believes this to be the case. Here’s what he said in February 2015, according to Politifact:

“What I’m not advocating is that we cancel it right now at this moment, because you already have people that have signed up for it. They’re working, they’re going to school. It would be deeply disruptive. But at some point, it has to come to an end.”

Rubio previously thought doing this would be “deeply disruptive,” but he is now advocating for “canceling it right now at this moment,” or at least, on his first day in office.

To be sure, Rubio can legitimately vow to end Obama’s executive deportation relief while simultaneously supporting the general goal of legislative legalization for undocumented immigrants later (which Rubio has hedged on, too, by saying he’ll only back legalization once some undefined state of border security is attained first). But Rubio himself has been reluctant to say he’d end DACA on Day One, very likely because he understands that this would complicate his hopes of moderating on the issue as the nominee. That’s now changed. And apparently, he shifted precisely because he’s been getting attacked hard from the right over it, and needed a way to defuse these attacks. That immediate set of political imperatives has apparently won out over his longer term ones. And Democrats will surely conclude that Rubio has now saddled himself with a major vulnerability in the coming general election battle for Latino voters.


By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 19, 2016

February 21, 2016 Posted by | Dreamers, Immigration, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“He’ll Be A Better Boy And Show Up For School”: How Jeb Bush And Donald Trump Have Put A Surging Marco Rubio On Defense

Senator Marco Rubio seems to be deftly swatting away attacks from rivals Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, but the barrage coming his way over missed Senate votes, immigration reform, and mismanagement of personal finances have prompted him to quietly fine-tune his campaign as he rises in the polls and picks up big donors.

Moments before he formally filed for the presidential ballot Wednesday in Concord, New Hampshire, Trump told reporters that Rubio, who posted a strong third-place showing in two national polls released this week, has “very big issues” with his finances—specifically, having put thousands of dollars in personal expenses on a GOP American Express card while in the Florida state house—and is “very weak on illegal immigration. As you know, if it’s up to Marco Rubio people can just pour into the country.”

A few hours later, some 20 miles away at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, Rubio told reporters after a question-and-answer session with students that he’d release currently undisclosed charges on the American Express card “in the next few weeks.” That represents a new concession: in 2010, Rubio told a Florida newspaper he wouldn’t release the statements.

Rubio also toughened his position on immigration, making clear for the first time he’d end President Barack Obama’s program to shield young undocumented “Dreamers” from deportation by stopping new enrollments. Obama’s program is designed to temporarily protect people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children.

Asked by Bloomberg if he’d end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) program even if Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform, Rubio responded, “Yes, it will have to end… It cannot be the permanent policy if the United States.” That’s a harder stance than in April, when Rubio left some room to preserve DACA until legislative action: “I hope it will end because of some reforms to the immigration laws,” he told Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

Rubio’s comments Wednesday about ending the executive-level protections so-called “Dreamers” led to a torrent of criticism from Democrat-aligned groups and immigration advocates, including a rebuke from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “We should not put 650,000+ promising young people at risk for deportation,” she tweeted, referring to the number that have gained temporary deportation reprieve and work permits. “Sen. Rubio is wrong on this.” The issue is important because the next president can continue or end DACA, set up by Obama in 2012, with the stroke of a pen. Rubio is boxed in by growing criticism from conservatives who suspect him of being soft on immigration because of his 2013 effort to pass a bill that included a path for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status.

“The gang of eight bill—that’s bullcrap,” said Michelle McManus of Bow, New Hampshire, referring to the legislation that Rubio co-wrote. She said she’ll vote for Trump and cannot trust Rubio again. “You blow it once and that’s it.”

While Bush’s now-famous confrontation with his former protégé in the third debate over having the Senate’s worst voting-attendance record appeared to backfire on stage (“It bombed so badly,” one Bush backer confided), it nonetheless appears to have led to a course correction on Rubio’s part.

Two days after the debate, Rubio canceled a scheduled campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, so he could return to Washington to cast a 3 a.m. vote on the budget deal. (He voted no, but it passed.) On Tuesday, he stuck around for two afternoon votes even as he had a fundraiser scheduled in New York later that day. Appearing on CNN the next day, he countered a report that he “hates” his current job, calling it “an incredible honor to serve in the United States Senate.” The first-term senator, who’s giving up his seat after 2016 to run for president, has missed 40 percent of votes since April, including one on Pentagon funding Thursday while filing for the New Hampshire ballot and giving a speech calling for a “21st century” military.

At a packed town hall Wednesday evening in Nashua, New Hampshire, a man confronted Rubio on missing votes and asked, “Why not resign from the Senate?” The questioner said that would allow Rubio to focus on his presidential campaign. Rubio, citing constituent services as the “most important” part of his job, rejected the man’s call. “I don’t actually hate being in the Senate,” Rubio added. “I’m frustrated with the Senate.”

Wednesday on Fox News, the senator hit back at Trump’s ongoing attacks on his immigration record, arguing that “Donald was a supporter of amnesty and of the DREAM Act, and he changed his position on those issues just to run for president.” On Thursday he told reporters that Trump’s attacks on his finances were “ironic” coming from “the only person who’s running for president that’s ever declared a bankruptcy.” Trump makes a point of saying that he has never filed for personal bankruptcy, though his businesses have.

Even though Rubio, however subtly, has appeared to feel compelled to respond to the attacks from Trump and Bush, his backers don’t seem to be fazed.

“Donald Trump will attack anybody just to get the spotlight. And Jeb Bush is frustrated with his 3 or 4 percent,” said Ray Younghans, a Republican who drove to Nashua from Orange, Massachusetts to see Rubio and is strongly considering him. “They’re just attacking to draw attention to themselves.”

To some voters at Rubio rallies, the attacks smack of desperation.

“I guess Donald Trump sees Rubio as the top force that might survive. And I think Jeb doesn’t know what he’s doing right now,” said Kevin Sowyrda, a 51-year-old teacher from Nashua as he held a Rubio placard. Though he’s not personally bothered by Rubio’s missed votes and faors him above all Republicans, Sowyrda said, “I guess the effect of the attacks is he’ll be a better boy and show up for school.”


By: Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg Politics, November 5, 2015

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Were Strangers Once Too”: President Obama Announces Executive Order For Deportation Relief

President Barack Obama on Thursday announced plans to sign an executive order sparing up to 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation, arguing that congressional inaction left him little choice but to use his executive authority on the issue.

In the summer of 2013, Obama noted, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill on a bipartisan 68 to 32 vote, raising advocates’ hopes that an overhaul was in sight. But House Speaker John Boehner never brought the measure to a House vote, and Obama took Congress to task for its failure to act in his Thursday evening address. House Republicans, Obama charged, “refused to allow that simple vote.”

Until Congress moves on the issue, Obama said, the best path forward is executive action. In his speech, the president laid out a three-point plan. First, the U.S. will beef up border security and continue to focus on capturing unauthorized migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. The president will also establish incentives that will keep highly skilled immigrants in the country — a top priority for GOP-leaning business groups, Finally — and most controversially — Obama said his administration would “deal responsibly” with unauthorized immigrants already in the country.

Emphasizing that the U.S. would continue to deport immigrants deemed security threats, Obama said that he would order agencies to prioritize the most dangerous unauthorized immigrants for deportation. “Felons, not families” and “criminals, not children” would be the focus of U.S. enforcement efforts, the president said. The president referenced the nation’s immigrant history, saying, “we were strangers once too.”

The president’s plan expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for those brought to the U.S. as minors; the program will no longer have an age cap. More crucially — contingent on passing a background check — parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents who have themselves been in the U.S. for at least five years will be spared deportation. That protection alone affects an estimated 4 million people.

Obama cautioned that the changes do not apply to any migrants who recently arrived in the U.S. or those who may come in the future.

The president’s invocation of executive authority on the issue drew the ire of conservative Republicans, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said executive action would represent a “defiance of the people.” The president is poised for a showdown with the GOP over the issue when a unified GOP Congress takes control in January.

“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,”  Obama said in his address. “To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

Progressives cheered the president’s announcement.

“Today, parents who have lived here for years and had to constantly worry that they could be torn away from their children will no longer have to look over their shoulders. With House Republicans continuing to block immigration reform legislation in Congress, the president is taking a bold step that is fully within his authority to begin fixing the system,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a former Obama administration aide.


By: Luke Brinker, Salon, November 20, 2014

November 21, 2014 Posted by | Executive Orders, Immigration Reform, Presidential Powers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Hostility Of Latter-Day Republicans”: For Obama, No Point In Being Conciliatory Now

I didn’t watch much TV last night, but I got the impression that whenever the gabbers ran out of steam in describing what was unfolding, they’d revert to blah blah blah about whether the results would re-inaugurate some sort of Era of Good Feeling in Washington.

It’s unclear to me if this sort of talk reflects incredible delusions about the hostility to compromise of latter-day Republicans, or the belief that Barack Obama and Democrats have no play but total surrender. Either way, it makes no sense, even if both sides make the obligatory cooing sounds about bipartisanship and “solving the country’s problems” for a few days.

Last night’s results, in fact, will enormously ratchet up pressure on Republican congressional leaders to act as though their party is already in charge. We’re much more likely to hear ultimatums than peace offerings. I’d figure Boehner and McConnell will let the White House know, privately and publicly, that life can get easier if Obama (a) approves the Keystone XL pipeline, (b) indefinitely delays any DACA expansion, and (c) indefinitely delays final action on climate change regs.

Maybe (a) is a viable option; for all any of us knows, the administration has already decided to approve Keystone. But pure merits aside, backing off on DACA would squander the most important political chip Obama can play for his party before leaving office, and backing off climate change regs might well kill prospects for doing anything on the most important long-range challenge facing the country for many years to come. I personally cannot see anything within the power of congressional Republicans to offer Obama that would justify either concession. Saying “no,” on the other hand, will almost certainly cause Republicans heartburn over the inevitable divisions of opinion about how, exactly, to respond (after the shrieks of rage have subsided). Add in the fact that an awful lot of Republican activists and opinion-leaders are going to vastly over-interpret the midterm results into either a “mandate” or a sign of manifest destiny, there’s little reason to think the GOP is going to listen to those who think the next two years must be devoted to changing the party’s image. At this point, it would be a terrible idea for Obama and Democrats to help Republicans achieve a “pragmatic” makeover they’re not willing to earn by disappointing the almighty “base.”

Besides, Democrats have another task that should absorb their time for the next year or so: coming up with a agenda for keeping the economic recovery going while boosting its tangible benefits for the 99%. Making progress on that front would be better medicine for the Democratic Party and for the country than considering concessions to the people who think there’s not enough inequality today.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, November 5, 2014

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Bipartisanship, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The True Bounds Of Executive Authority”: The Possession Of Great Power Necessarily Implies Great Responsibility

With Congress mired in gridlock, President Obama has vowed to use “a pen and a phone” to accomplish some of his policy goals. Last week, he doubled down by promising to act on one of the nation’s most divisive and important issues — immigration — before the rapidly approaching end of summer. Such executive action has outraged his political foes. To be sure, any ambitious path of executive action must be conducted in a manner consistent with the law and the appropriate role of coordinate branches. But should we snap to attention when we hear hyperventilating about his supposed abuse of power? At least so far, hardly.

All presidents have significant power to advance policy goals through executive action. That power is limited by the Constitution, above all else. The Supreme Court has made it clear that when Congress has not acted, and no federal law blocks it, the president has considerable leeway to act. Through the years, presidents of both parties have used the tools at hand. Ronald Reagan reined in regulatory agencies. Bill Clinton declared major swaths of land off limits for development, and cracked down on tobacco. George W. Bush made major moves to limit stem cell research. And presidents (including this one) have used, and often abused, executive authority when it comes to national security, often moving in secret.

Where does President Obama stack up in this hall of presidents? In fact, so far, he has not been especially more aggressive than his predecessors. He issued executive orders at a slower pace than any president since Grover Cleveland. Quantity is not quality, but the orders he has issued have not been particularly bold — no seizing steel mills (as Harry Truman did) or sending the National Guard to Little Rock (as Dwight Eisenhower did). One unilateral power clearly given to the president by the Constitution is the pardon power. Here, too, Obama has issued fewer pardons and grants of clemency to prisoners serving unjust sentences than most presidents.

This has not stopped his political opponents from screaming that he is abusing his power. The House of Representatives recently voted to sue him for one act of supposed overreaching: delays in implementing the employer mandate and other parts of the Affordable Care Act. Set aside the weirdness of such a claim (this is the same House that wants to repeal the same law). Once a bill is passed by Congress, the executive branch has the authority to execute it. Realistically, putting complex statutes such as the ACA into place will have bumps in the road. In this case, it turned out that the ACA could not be accomplished as quickly as hoped — in part because several states refused to cooperate. But presidents have delayed implementation of laws in the past without arousing ire. George W. Bush used his executive authority in 2004 to waive penalty fees for seniors who signed up late for Medicare Part D, another contentious health care law.

Will the president’s use of executive power to advance his goals on immigration reform be constitutional? Depends. No president has authority to do a complete immigration overhaul by fiat. And we don’t fully know what is contemplated, which must of course meet the test of legality. But this president, as any president, has ample room for action. He has asked for a set of formal recommendations from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and has looked at expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to allow for deferred deportations, at the discretion of federal prosecutors. It makes perfect sense for the president to use his finite resources in a way that is fiscally responsible and protects the public interest. Indeed, he has already done so on a smaller scale two years ago when he created DACA to ceased deportation of young immigrants who met certain criteria.

The government cannot deport everyone; it simply doesn’t have the capacity. Prioritizing deporting violent criminals is hardly earth-shattering, or Constitution-shattering. Law enforcement and prosecutors exercise discretion all the time in determining which cases to investigate and prosecute. In the real world of an “under-resourced” system, choosing how to allocate the resources that Congress does give him is clearly within the president’s purview.

Our government functions on a system of checks and balances. It’s true that the Constitution grants Congress more powers than the president. But, as William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, said during a debate in Parliament in 1817, “the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility” (150 years later, Spider-Man agreed). A paralyzed Congress has abdicated its responsibility and spurred the president to act. President Obama is simply is doing what he must do to keep the United States running.


By: Inimai Chettiar, Director, Justice Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; The Hufington Post Blog, August 29, 2014


August 30, 2014 Posted by | Congress, Constitution, Executive Orders | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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