Immigration Deadline: Aug. 1

A march to the Metropolitan Detention Center during one a several May Day immigration-themed events on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Photograph by David McNew/Getty Images

A march to the Metropolitan Detention Center during one a several May Day immigration-themed events on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Congressional Democrats are, by and large, just fine with the Obama administration’s decision to stall its review of deportation policies in an effort to give House Republicans room to act.

But there’s a limit, and that deadline is August 1.

“I think he ought not give any more space than August,” House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters. After that,  he said, Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson should do as much as they can legally because the House will have shown it has no intention to do anything.

That stance echoes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said last week that Senate Democrats would push for more administrative action if the House hasn’t acted by the August recess.

A quick recap of where we are and how we got here.

The Senate passed a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill last year. House Republicans rejected it, raising among other objections the notion that nobody had read the thing.

Instead, Republican leaders put together a list of principles (not bill text, principles) in January, including a path to legalization status for the undocumented already in the U.S. and increased border security. A week later, they said they weren’t going to move on those because they couldn’t trust President Barack Obama to implement them.

Republicans don’t have the votes to do immigration alone. Democrats say they’d help provide votes for a good immigration bill. Republicans are wary of relying on Democrats. And in any case, they won’t conference on the Senate’s bill, which includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented, no matter what happens on the House side.

Got it? Back to Hoyer.

“The reason for not moving is their party is deeply divided” on immigration, the Maryland Democrat said of the Republicans, bringing up a campaign flyer that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s campaign sent out. Cantor is being challenged by a Tea Party guy, David Brat, who says Cantor has gone Washington-soft on Virginia conservatives.

The flyer, which the National Journal posted, credits Cantor with “stopping the Obama Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty.”

House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, has made no secret of his desire to get something done on immigration this year. It’s unclear, as yet, what that would be, or if anything at all will happen.

The White House said it would delay the results of a Homeland Security deportation review until at least August, out of concern that Republicans might not move a bill if the administration takes unilateral action, the Washington Post and Associated Press reported.

Asked to react to Obama’s announcement, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel dismissed the idea it was some gift to the right. “Enforcing the law as written isn’t a ‘concession’ – it is the president’s solemn responsibility,” Steel said. “Now isn’t the time to be playing politics with immigration enforcement or our national security.”

 

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