Downplaying Republican Obstructionism, CNN Suggests Obama Is To Blame On Immigration Reform

CNN's Candy Crowley and John King portrayed President Obama as having failed to generate significant progress on immigration reform because the White House has said that it will delay executive action on the issue until after the midterm elections. But this analysis ignores the reality that House Republicans refused to vote on a bipartisan Senate immigration bill and threatened to impeach Obama over plans to take executive action on immigration.

House Republicans Refused To Act On Immigration, So Obama Said He Would Take Executive Action

Senate Passed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill With Bipartisan Support. In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill that included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as the Huffington Post reported:

The Senate passed a politically fraught immigration reform bill on Thursday that would give a path to citizenship to some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., bringing them out of the shadows and preventing continued record deportations that have separated hundreds of thousands of families.

The bill passed 68 to 32, picking up all Democrats and 14 Republicans. [Huffington Post, 6/27/13]

After House Speaker Refused To Act On Senate-Passed Bill For A Year, Obama Said He Would Take Executive Action. In June, Obama announced that House Speaker John Boehner had informed him that House Republicans would not hold a vote on immigration reform, and because of that, he would take executive action:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: [F]or more than a year, Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to allow an up-or-down vote on that Senate bill or any legislation to fix our broken immigration system. And I held off on pressuring them for a long time to give Speaker Boehner the space he needed to get his fellow Republicans on board. 

[...]

I believe Speaker Boehner when he says he wants to pass an immigration bill. I think he genuinely wants to get something done. But last week, he informed me that Republicans will continue to block a vote on immigration reform at least for the remainder of this year. Some in the House Republican Caucus are using the situation with unaccompanied children as their newest excuse to do nothing. Now, I want everybody to think about that. Their argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn't make an effort to fix it. It makes no sense. It's not on the level. It's just politics, plain and simple.

I don't prefer taking administrative action. I'd rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face. Certainly that's true on immigration. I've made that clear multiple times. I would love nothing more than bipartisan legislation to pass the House, the Senate, land on my desk so I can sign it. That's true about immigration, that's true about the minimum wage, it's true about equal pay. There are a whole bunch of things where I would greatly prefer Congress actually do something. I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it's bad for our economy, and it's bad for our future. 

So while I will continue to push House Republicans to drop the excuses and act -- and I hope their constituents will too -- America cannot wait forever for them to act. And that's why, today, I'm beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress. [WhiteHouse.gov, 6/30/14 (emphasis added)]

Immigration Reform Had Broad Public Support When Obama Announced Executive Action. In June, The Washington Post reported on a study from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution which found that a majority of Americans surveyed supported a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country:

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that 62 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants a way to become citizens, compared with 63 percent a year ago. An additional 17 percent said in the new poll that illegal immigrants should be able to become legal residents but not full citizens. Nineteen percent said they should be deported. [The Washington Post6/10/14]

Republicans Threatened Impeachment Over Possible Executive Action

USA Today: Rep. Steve King Said House GOP Should Consider Impeachment If Obama Takes Executive Action On Immigration. USA Today reported that in August, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said House Republicans should consider impeaching Obama if he issues an executive order on deferred action on undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, helped inspire a new round of chatter Sunday by saying that House Republicans should consider impeachment if President Obama issues an executive order that defers deportation of millions of people already in the country illegally.

“None of us want to do the thing that's left for us as an alternative,” King said on Fox News Sunday. “But if the president has decided that he simply is not going to enforce any immigration law ... I think Congress has to sit down and have a serious look at the rest of this Constitution and that includes that ” I" word that we don't want to say." [USA Today,8/4/14]

LA Times: White House Aide: Republicans Might Seek To Impeach Obama If He Takes Executive Action on Immigration. The Los Angeles Times reported in July that White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Obama's proposal to take “broad-ranging executive action” on immigration could lead Republicans to call for impeachment:

That move is certain to “increase the angry reaction from Republicans” who already accuse Obama of exceeding his executive authority, Pfeiffer said, highlighting recent statements by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in which she backed an impeachment move.

“I would not discount the possibility” that Republicans would seek to impeach Obama, he said, adding that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has “opened the door to impeachment” by his plans to sue Obama for allegedly exceeding his executive authority. [Los Angeles Times7/25/14]

In Turn, Obama Announced He Would Delay Executive Action On Immigration

Obama Delayed Executive Action Until After 2014 Midterm Elections. On September 6, the White House announced that given “Republicans' extreme politicization of this issue,” any executive action on immigration reform would be delayed until after the 2014 midterm elections. As administration officials explained in an email to The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, “the President believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections. Because he wants to do this in a way that's sustainable, the President will take action on immigration before the end of the year.” [The Washington Post, Plum Line, 9/6/14]

Nevertheless, CNN Framed Obama As Being At Fault For Lack Of Action On Immigration Reform

State Of The Union's Crowley Wondered If Obama Would “Cooperate With Congress And Come Up With An Immigration Bill.”  On the September 7 edition of CNN's State Of The Union, host Candy Crowley asked  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, whether the delay meant Obama might work with Congress to “come up with an immigration bill,” despite the fact that Obama supports the bipartisan Senate bill, which Boehner refuses to hold a vote on (emphasis added):

CROWLEY: So the president has delayed this executive order that he indicated in June would happen at the end of the summer. Why'd he do that?

ROGERS: Well, I think he's being prudent about it. When you look at a) this is such an emotional issue all across America, I think that was wise. He needs to work with Congress on this. It's not just about the immigration problem of the illegals who are in the United States and what their status might be. That southern border has become a national security issue, a public health issue for the United States, and certainly a local security issue. All of those thing, I think, need to be addressed. The best way to do that  is do it in a cooperate effort with Congress. I think you'll get a much better product, a secure border ,and we can move forward.

CROWLEY: Let me just intervene here and tell you that the president says he's going to do this executive action right after the midterms. So, you don't see this as a political action on the president's part? You think it means he's going to cooperate with Congress and come up with an immigration bill?

ROGERS: Well, I clearly think that it's political, in the sense that he understands how unpopular that decision would be with Americans. And it's probably not the right decision -- as a matter of fact, not probably, it isn't and would not be the right decision for him to do that. I hope he doesn't do it after the election. I think at least he postponed it at this point. Again, people rushing to do this, there are lots of implications here for national security, local security, public health security, costs of education. [CNN, State Of The Union9/7/14]

Inside Politics' King Suggested Obama Is Playing Politics And Failing Latino Community By Delaying Executive Action. On the September 7 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, host John King said (emphasis added):

KING: We know this morning that President Obama's “soon” means after the November elections. Trying to protect the Democratic majority in the Senate now trumps taking executive action on immigration, despite the president's own repeated promises to do so and his repeated assertion that every day that passed without action was bad for America's security and bad for its economy.

[...]

[H]ow could it be that in June he was adamant he would act, that he promised the Latino community he could act. Just Friday, he had to know he wasn't going to act but he says  “soon.”  Now they say after the elections, and the president says,  “Oh, no, no, no, it's not about protecting the Democratic majority, it's the American people need more time to understand this.”  

[...]

And so what do the Republicans do now? They secretly wanted the president to act, even though they said it would be unconstitutional, they said it would be an overreach, they wanted him to act so that they could fire up their base.

[...]

You would think, if you study demographics, if you look at the last two presidential elections, you might think Republicans would say, 'What an opening the president has given us, that he has decided not to act.' Why don't we step forward and tell this very disappointed, disgruntled, angry Latino community, 'Look at us. Look what we'll do.' But they don't want to touch this either. [CNN, Inside Politics9/7/14]