Immigration reform is popular, with even a third
of Republicans in the heavily Republican 2014 electorate
approving of "amnesty," or a legalized path to citizenship. Overall, full "amnesty" was supported by 59 percent of Americans. Just 39 percent are assholes who want undocumented immigrants deported, as if that's ever even remotely feasible.
Throw in the fact that immigration is near and dear to the nation's two largest growing demographics—Asians and Latinos—and there's ample reason for Republicans to fear getting mired in a debate over the merits of any executive order. Instead, they're focusing on the process.
It's illegal! It poisons that well already full of cyanide! President Barack Obama thinks he's an emperor!
It's clear at this point that people are pretty much sick of the president. His professorial style comes off as aloof and disengaged, and years of broken promises have erased virtually all of his early goodwill. Whether it's his emphatic pre-election promises to tackle immigration in his first year, unlike all those other promise-breaking presidents, or the years of pressure it took to move him on gay rights, to the continued fight to get him to do the right thing on the Keystone XL pipeline. (Not to mention civil rights abuses, NSA, lack of progress on labor, etc, etc, etc.)
Liberals are exhausted. And with conservatives deciding Obama was a Kenyan usurper from Day One, who does the president have left? Fair or not, without the ability to demonstrate real empathy, people have decided the president just doesn't give a shit anymore. That's why you get poll results like this:
Tease from our new NBC/WSJ poll: 48% oppose Obama taking executive action on immigration, while 38% support it
Coupled with this:
That said, Americans support underlying policy: 57% back a pathway to citizenship - and it increases to 74% when told what pathway entails
So Americans support the policy—overwhelmingly!—but ugh, Obama taking action is obnoxious. That's not a sign of a president with any goodwill left.
The good news is that no one gives a shit about process in the end. Quick, what was the vote on the Social Security Act? Don't ask me, and who cares? It's great law, and no one who takes advantage of it cares whether it was "bipartisan" or not. What about the Patriot Act? That was bipartisan so inherently good, right? What about the Iraq War authorization vote? So goodly bipartisan, so must be good policy, right?
Fact is, whatever it is that Obama announces today will be a step in the right direction, since anything that slows the pace of deportation is a step in the right direction. It is popular policy, it is politically popular. That won't stop the xenophobic wing from kicking and screaming and braying about DIKTATOR OBUMMER, but their approach betrays their position: they won't argue against keeping families together, they'll argue process, and they'll argue Obama.
And that's all the proof you'll need that Obama has done the right thing. And if Republicans want to share in the credit, they can pass full Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Congress. No one is keeping them out except themselves.