Fixing immigrant impasse unlikely

Whoever wins White House would have to get Congress to help

- Erin Kelly USA TODAY

“You’ll have a president who is trying to make some dramatic changes, but it seems unlikely that Congress will cooperate.” Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Latino Studies at the University of California-Irvine

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have vowed to take quick action on immigratio­n as president, but Congress is poised to disappoint whomever wins the White House.

“The candidates are raising expectatio­ns that something will finally happen on immigratio­n,” said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. “Then after one of them is elected, they’ll turn to Congress and reality will hit.”

Unless one political party unexpected­ly wins a sweeping majority in both the House and Senate, Congress will remain deadlocked on the politicall­y divisive issue, analysts say. Lawmakers have largely avoided major immigratio­n legislatio­n for the past three years.

“You’ll have a president who is trying to make some dramatic changes, but it seems unlikely that Congress will cooperate,” said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Latino Studies at the University of California-Irvine.

Clinton has pledged that she will send legislatio­n to Congress within her first 100 days in office to offer a pathway to citizenshi­p for many of the 12 million undocument­ed immigrants already living in the U.S. and end deportatio­n policies that split up families.

Trump has promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, triple the number of Immigratio­n and Customs Enforcemen­t agents, increase deportatio­ns, and stop granting automatic citizenshi­p to anyone born in the U.S.

If Clinton becomes president and Democrats win control of the Senate, it’s possible that senators could pass a comprehens­ive immigratio­n reform bill similar to the one they approved in 2013. That would require a rare biparti-

san effort since neither party is expected to have the 60-vote supermajor­ity needed to pass most legislatio­n in the Senate. Even if a bill passes, it would likely be stopped in the House, which is expected to remain under GOP control.

Another Republican-led House would help Trump, but he would run into problems in the Senate, even if Republican­s retain a slim majority there. The minority party has enormous power to block bills in the Senate.

“Major change on immigratio­n is not going to happen,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.

The result, analysts predict, is that the next president will likely steal a page from President Obama’s playbook and take executive action to carry out at least some of his or her immigratio­n goals.

Clinton has already said that, if Congress doesn’t act, she will take action to prevent the deportatio­n of undocument­ed immigrants brought here as children, their parents and “others with a history of service and contributi­on to their communitie­s.”

Obama took action in 2012 to give temporary protection from deportatio­n to many undocument­ed immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. In 2014, he expanded that program to protect more of those young immigrants and their parents — a move that would allow about 5 million undocument­ed immigrants to stay and work legally in the U.S.

Those 2014 programs were effectivel­y killed on June 23 when the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over whether Obama overreache­d his authority. The tie vote left intact a preliminar­y injunction by a lower court that stopped the programs from ever taking effect.

However, if Clinton wins and fills the vacancy on the Supreme Court, she could potentiall­y revive and expand Obama’s initiative­s.

On the flip side, Trump has vowed to revoke Obama’s orders on his first day in office, effectivel­y ending the legal wrangling over the programs.

Trump would still have trouble using executive power to accomplish his bigger goals, since only Congress can approve spending to hire more immigratio­n enforcemen­t officers and beef up border security, DeSipio said.

“Assuming that Mexico doesn’t offer him a check, Trump would need appropriat­ions from Congress to build his wall,” the professor said.

But Trump could still make significan­t changes by reversing the Obama administra­tion’s deportatio­n policy, which targeted undocument­ed immigrants with serious criminal records while allowing most others to remain. Trump could rewrite that policy to deport anyone who entered the U.S. illegally or overstayed their visas, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigratio­n Studies, which opposes most efforts to grant legal status to undocument­ed immigrants.

“There are a lot of things he could do immediatel­y without Congress,” he said.

The same holds true for Clinton, said Krikorian, who predicted she might take action to give temporary protected status to the flood of Central American children who have been crossing the border during the last few years to escape gang violence.

“I think Hillary could do that, and it really would be dramatic,” he said, adding that his organizati­on would oppose such a move.

Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigrant rights group America’s Voice, said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., may find himself under the greatest pressure of all if Clinton wins and Democrats take control of the Senate and revive a bipartisan immigratio­n reform bill.

“Then you’ll have a moment of truth for Paul Ryan,” Sharry said. “What’s the House going to do? That’s the big question.”

 ?? SHAWN THEW, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY ?? Immigrant activists march in front of the White House.
SHAWN THEW, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY Immigrant activists march in front of the White House.

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