President Obama must be wishing he had passed immigration reform in his first year as he promised. Likewise, Republicans must be wishing that they had passed legislation six months ago instead of having it drag into the presidential primary season, which is beginning. Both sides have boxed themselves into positions that make it difficult to make a move without great political risk.
Few question the wisdom of the president’s latest executive action on immigration. The policy is fine; the concern is about procedure.
Whether the president is overstepping his authority is a debate left, for now, with constitutional attorneys. But everyone knows that immigration reform is necessary. At its best, executive action is only a temporary measure that cannot grant a new visa or raise money for much-needed border security.
Meaningful reform requires legislative action. It is going to require Republicans to make a smart choice, presenting a bill to be voted upon. They will look dumb if they don’t. That doesn’t mean Republicans can’t challenge the president’s authority; they can and they will. They can also enact legislation at the same time and move the country forward. Congressional leaders who care about 2016 should know that Hispanic voters are aware of this, too.