this Aug. 9, 2014 file photo, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz,
R-Texas, speaks during The Family Leadership Summit,
in Ames, Iowa. President Barack Obama has the upper
hand in the fierce struggle over immigration now
taking shape, with a veto pen ready to kill any
Republican move to reverse his executive order,
Democrats united behind him and GOP congressional
leaders desperate to squelch talk of a government
shutdown or even impeachment. With the public favoring
changes in the current immigration system, the
Republicans’ best short-term response appears to be
purely rhetorical: that the president is granting
amnesty to millions, and exceeding his constitutional
authority in the process. Beyond that, their hopes of
reversing his policies appear to be either a
years-long lawsuit or the 2016 presidential election.
Neither of those is likely to satisfy the tea party
adherents in Congress - or the Republican presidential
contenders vying for support among party activists who
will play an outsized role in early primaries and
caucuses just over a year away. "We alone, I say
it openly, we the Senate are waiting in our duty to
stop this lawless administration and its
unconstitutional amnesty,’’ said Cruz. In remarks
on the Senate floor, according to his office, he was
channeling Cicero, the ancient Roman orator.
— The rhetoric is barbed, but Republican presidential
hopefuls generally fell in line behind the voices of
restraint in the wake of President Barack Obama's order
blocking deportation for millions of immigrants in the
Rick Santorum, a tea party favorite in the 2012 race, urged
the Republican leadership in Congress to "use any means
available to stop this unconstitutional attack on our
Paul of Kentucky, who once filibustered the nomination of
John Brennan as CIA director in a dispute over surveillance
of U.S. citizens, said: "I will not sit idly by and let
the president bypass Congress and our Constitution."
Rubio of Florida, who voted for the bipartisan bill that
cleared the Senate in 2013, said the Congress should try to
unravel Obama's actions, and he called for Republicans to
call a vote early next year on a strict immigration
like nearly all other potential presidential contenders,
offered no specifics on what sort of response they favor to
try and force a presidential retreat.
Cruz of Texas has been an exception. He said the new
Republican-controlled Senate that takes office in January
should refuse to confirm any of Obama's nominees except for
vital national security positions as long as the president's
order remains in effect.
Senator Rand Paul speaks to the Chase Federalist
Society at Northern Kentucky University, Friday, Nov.
21, 2014, in Highland Heights, Ky.
on Fox on Sunday, he also said Republicans should "use
the power of the purse" to attach conditions to
funding, but offered no details. He disputed the suggestion
that the government shutdown of a year ago inflicted
long-lasting damage on the party, noting its sweeping
mid-term election victories.
leaders in Congress have vowed to take action in response to
Obama, but have yet to say precisely how. An attempt to
block his actions by restricting the use federal funds is
among the possibilities, although the president could veto
that. So, too, is incorporating the issue into a lawsuit the
House filed on Friday against the administration's moves to
implement the health care act.
possible response, triggering a government shutdown in hopes
of turning back Obama's order, is viewed by incoming Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker John Boehner as
a non-starter, particularly at the outset of a new era of
Republican control of Congress. Even more so is starting
reticence among presidential hopefuls comes at a time on the
political calendar when jockeying for support among party
activists routinely increases. With mid-term elections in
the past, the focus will inevitably turn quickly toward the
first caucuses and primaries now little more than a year
polls suggest immigration is an issue that divides
conservatives who form the core of the Republican party from
the rest of the electorate.
polls from the Nov. 4 elections, 59 percent of those
surveyed said they favored allowing immigrants to remain in
the country and work even if they are here illegally, and
only 39 percent said they favored deportation.
allowing immigrants to remain in the country was 74 percent
among Hispanics, whose impact on Republican presidential
primaries is generally negligible, but who represent the
fastest growing part of the national electorate.
conservative Republicans, only 36 percent said immigrants in
the country illegally should be given a way to seek legal
first few days after the president's speech, pressure from
tea party activists who have been influential in the past
has yet to coalesce.
Martin, who heads the Tea Party Patriots, asked for
signatures on a petition to Congress to "defund
More than a
year ago, tea party groups were instrumental in pushing GOP
lawmakers to defund the president's health care law. Cruz
and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took up the cause. The ensuing
struggle between the GOP-controlled House and Obama produced
a partial government shutdown that sent public support for
meeting of Republican governors in Florida in recent days,
Tex. Gov. Rick Perry said Obama's action was akin to
"sticking a finger in the eye of the American
people" and said a lawsuit was "a real
Gov. Chris Christie, another possible presidential hopeful,
blamed Obama for failing to deal with immigration, said a
government shutdown should be avoided and declined to say
what he would do in response. A request Friday for
additional information went unanswered.
to Republicans, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
tweeted her thanks to Obama on Thursday evening "for
taking action on immigration in the face of inaction."
"Now let's turn to permanent bipartisan reform."