After President Obama’s announced executive order on immigration reform just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the to-date intransigent Republicans find themselves boxed in on moving forward. Rather than feeding a mire of uncooperative spite, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) says the president’s order frees up the GOP to pass reasonable reform legislation.
Although some in the leadership ranks of the GOP have characterized the executive order tantamount to picking a bar fight—as 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said—Sen. Flake says President Obama now has more pressure to sign conservative immigration bills that comes out of Congress. As the bills go through the process and are signed into law, the end result at least resembles comprehensive immigration reform.
“I think it will be easier in a sense,” the senator says.
The wheeling and dealing of this particular political scenario comes in the form of three non-negotiable concessions Sen. Flake and other Republicans want from the president. These center on border security, mandatory e-verify and temporary and high-tech visa programs.
On the border security portion of the Republican demands is a bill requiring a border apprehension rate of 90 percent apprehension before moving ahead with any permanent legalization of immigrants who are undocumented. As the executive order arguably tests constitutional boundaries, Sen. Flake says the president would be “harder-pressed to veto a border security bill, a tough one, than he would have before.”
Republican insistence on mandatory e-verify—a system that tracks the legal permission to work—goes with the party’s demand for tougher interior enforcement. Republicans also see an opportunity to put through business-friendly legislation on temporary and high-tech visas.
An editorial in the Washington Post puts it this way, “(Sen. Flake’s) hunch is that Obama, to quell the Republican rage on immigration and to make his executive action permanent, would ultimately take that deal.”