The Note: Obama's Immigration Actions Hit a Speed Bump

The Note 2/17/2015

The Note: Obama's Immigration Actions Hit a Speed Bump

By SHUSHANNAH WALSHE (@shushwalshe )


  • BREAKING OVERNIGHT: A federal judge in Texas has blocked President Obama's executive action on immigration, giving Texas and 25 other states time to pursue a lawsuit that aims to permanently stop the orders. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's decision comes after a hearing in Brownsville, Texas in January and puts on hold Obama's order, which could protect millions of immigrants who are here illegally from being deported, ABC'S KATHERINE FAULDERS and DAN GOOD report. Hanen wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will "suffer irreparable harm in this case." "The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle," he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs' argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a "virtually irreversible" action. The ruling will remain in place until a trial before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
  • WHITE HOUSE REACTS: "The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws-which is exactly what the President did when he announced commonsense policies to help fix our broken immigration system. Those policies are consistent with the laws passed by Congress and decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as five decades of precedent by presidents of both parties who have used their authority to set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws," the statement reads. "The Department of Justice , legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington , D.C. have determined that the President's actions are well within his legal authority…The district court's decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision."
  • WHAT THE DREAMERS ARE SAYING: Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola, Co-Directors of the Dream Action Coalition issued a statement saying they weren't surprised by the judge's decision. "The injunction is clearly based more on politics than law, and is now part of an aggressive effort by the rightward fringe of the GOP to scare Dreamers and parents from applying," the statement reads. "Nevertheless, we will not let this temporary obstacle stop us from holding forums, encouraging people to collect their paperwork and eventually apply; this injunction is only temporary after all."
  • ANALYSIS - ABC'S RICK KLEIN: A federal judge in Texas may or may not have delivered Republicans the policy result they wanted in blocking President Obama's immigration executive order. But Judge Andrew Hanen's decision could alter the roadmap sufficiently to provide GOP leaders the exit ramp they need so urgently in the current Capitol Hill showdown. Mixing the immigration order with funding for the Department of Homeland Security hasn't produced the desired results. But in making the case among Republicans for a new strategy, the (at least temporary) success of a legal challenge just might be persuasive. The latest development won't be the final word on the never-ending wars over immigration policy. Republicans, though, needed a new script - and just might have gotten one, just in time.
  • WATCH ABC's JON KARL on GOOD MORNING AMERICA today from a snowy White House. Karl reports there's a good chance - if not likelihood - that courts will ultimately rule in Obama's favor on this given legal precedent.
  • THE WHITE HOUSE TODAY, COUNTERING EXTREMISM: The 3-day White House summit aimed at building and amplifying a counter-message to Islamic extremist groups kicks off today - it will proceed despite the weather, notes ABC'S DEVIN DWYER. The first focus is on domestic strategies to reach out to young, disenfranchised Americans who could be susceptible to recruitment. They'll highlight model cities of Minneapolis, Boston and LA, which have what authorities see as effective programs. There will also be discussion of how communities can better use social media to push an alternative message online. Worth noting that this summit, which was scheduled for last fall, is drawing criticism for having too broad a focus (no specific mention of "Islamic" extremism, or ISIS) and for what some see as a too academic approach to an urgent problem. AND ASH CARTER SWORN IN: The Vice President swears in Ash Carter as the Obama administration's 4 th defense secretary at 11am.
  • ON THE TRAIL: Jeb Bush will attend two DC-area fundraising events for his PAC Right to Rise today. Rand Paul is the guest at a Clermont County, Ohio Republican Party dinner. - Ali Weinberg


ABC'S SERENA MARSHALL: The immigration fight is just beginning. A Texas federal judge issued a halt to President Obama's executive action on immigration last night. While he didn't rule the action unconstitutional he halted the ability to implement until legal questions have been answered. Tomorrow USCIS was scheduled to begin accepting applications for expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). No word from them yet on if they will accept applications or not. With rallies already scheduled across the country for DACA we can expect them to use this new ruling to fuel protests, with immigration groups calling it a "temporary setback" as the Justice Department will appeal. While the Texas judge was assigned the case randomly, it comes as little surprise given a blistering response he wrote to a case in 2013 claiming the government participated in criminal conspiracy to smuggle children into the US. He compared the government reuniting undocumented children with parents the same to them assisting in gun smuggling. So the immigration fight rages on, but most early reaction from immigration seems to be they anticipate this ruling to be overturned.

ABC'S ARLETTE SAENZ: The Texas district court ruling blocking President Obama's immigration executive actions from taking effect comes just over one week before funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to run out. Congress has been locked in a tight battle over the funding, which will expire on February 27th, as Republicans have tried to tie immigration to the funding, and with lawmakers home on recess, Congress will return with just days to pass funding for DHS. Last night's ruling might give Congress a bit of breathing room to pass a short term funding bill without immigration attached to it. But it might also embolden some Republicans who want to ensure the block will be permanent. Overnight, Sen Ted Cruz, whose state led the lawsuit, tweeted the moment was a "HUGE victory for rule of law." This morning, Sen. John Cornyn, also of Texas, noted in a statement, "Today's victory is an important one, but the fight to reverse the President's unconstitutional overreach is not over. The President must respect the rule of law and fully obey the court's ruling."

ABC'S JIM AVILA: The president's executive order was to cover 5 million immigrants and the destructive factor here is the uncertainty again. Many immigrants were reluctant to sign up with the government in the first place for fear if there was an Administration change the order would be revoked and they would then be subject to deportation since they have already signed up giving the government all their information on where they work and where they live. And while it is likely to be overturned that uncertainty hurts the overall plan's chance of success. This also begs the question of what mainstream Republicans and candidates think. This move reinforces the image that the GOP is the enemy of immigrants and it's not a great place for the party to be as we approach 2016.


"2016 Ambitions Seen in Walker's Push for University Cuts in Wisconsin," by Julie Bosman of the New York Times. Atop a steep hill on the University of Wisconsin campus is a granite boulder affixed with a bronze plaque honoring the university system's lofty mission: to benefit the entire state by promoting public service and a search for truth. Summed up in one phrase - "the boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state" - the mission statement, known as the Wisconsin Idea, has been cherished by educators and graduates for a century. So when Gov. Scott Walker, a second-term Republican, presented a budget this month proposing to delete some of its most soaring passages, as well as to sharply cut state aid to the system, he ignited a furious backlash that crossed party and regional lines.

"Critics don't budge Jeb Bush from backing school testing," by Matt Viser of the Boston Globe. Jeb Bush has pledged to campaign "joyfully" if he runs for president in 2016, proud of all aspects of his record. That joy will be seriously tested when it comes to his support of Common Core, a national education standard designed to boost student achievement but seen as a symbol of big government by the Republican Party's conservative base. The former Florida governor has steadfastly embraced Common Core as he considers whether to enter the race, despite increasing criticism from potential rivals and demands that he reconsider his support for the program. Just saying the name Common Core generates animosity among some GOP primary voters. "It's become Obamacare for education," said John Brabender, a Pennsylvania-based Republican consultant who has been an adviser to Rick Santorum…To a limited degree, the dynamics are similar to Mitt Romney's tortured relationship with conservatives over his universal health care plan in Massachusetts.



RAND PAUL PUSHED KENTUCKY RULE CHANGE TO PURSUE PRESIDENCY AND SENATE. Rand Paul is actively looking for ways to run for both president and re-election to the U.S. Senate, something standard in many states, but not legal in his home state of Kentucky. However, the state GOP has some serious concerns about his desired scenario. Paul wrote a letter last week to the state party hoping to convince its members to create a presidential caucus, over a primary in 2016, the Lexington Herald-Leader first reported and the Kentucky GOP state party chairman confirmed to ABC News. Paul's letter argued it would make Kentucky more relevant in the primary process, but it also deals with the prohibition on candidates appearing on the same ballot twice. Paul and his supporters have been strategizing a work-around since he announced his intention to seek re-election and is also considering a 2016 run for the White House, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. In the letter, he cites Rep. Paul Ryan, who lost the vice-presidency in 2012, but was re-elected to his House seat. There are other examples of victories and losses in states where it's legal including then-Senator Joe Biden in 2008, amongst others, something Paul notes in the letter writing "My request to you is simply to be treated equally compared to other potential candidates for the presidency."


12 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT PAST US COMMANDERS IN CHIEF. Presidents Day is the federal holiday reserved for honoring the leading men of our country. It's officially "Washington's Birthday," but the name has evolved informally over the years to honor not just the first president, but all 43 of them. Keeping this theme in mind, ABC's MICHELLE MANZIONE notes 12 fun facts you probably didn't know about our past commanders in chief, with some help from Steven Noll, an expert historian and senior lecturer at the University of Florida. Learn who was the oldest president to serve, which president helped coin the term "seventh-inning stretch," and why Calvin Coolidge was given the nickname 'Silent Cal.'

HOW UBER RIDERS IN DC GOT TO CRUISE LIKE OBAMA. Uber riders in the nation's capital got a Presidents Day treat Monday when they logged on to the app: In honor of the holiday, the ride service offered Washingtonians the chance to cruise around town just like the president, ABC's MOLLY MITCHELL notes. By selecting the "Ubercade" option, riders (along with up to three of their closest "advisers") could summon their own personal motorcade, consisting of a Cadillac STS escorted by two Suburbans (adorned with U.S. flags) with the entourage completed by Uber "Secret Service" Agents, according to Uber's D.C. blog. Demand was "off the charts" for the limited-time service, which was priced like Uber's most discounted ride and ended at 3 p.m., according to Uber. But the lucky Beltway customers who snagged an Ubercade naturally took to social media to show it off.

ONE FAMILY'S TRADITION YOU HAVE TO SEE TO BELIEVE. Friends of the Jensen family of Washington, D.C., know they shouldn't expect Christmas cards. Instead, each year Marisa Jensen, her husband, Jeff, and their daughters, Matilda, 15, and Franny, 12, take part in a much more unusual tradition: Presidents Day cards. But these are no ordinary greetings. Marisa and Jeff, a historic preservation specialist at the General Services Administration, dress their children as U.S. presidents in honor of the national holiday, ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI writes. It all started in 2007 when the family was too busy for the traditional holiday family photo. So, instead for Presidents Day they mailed out a card with Matilda dressed as George Washington and Franny as a bearded Abraham Lincoln. "People have really embraced it and look forward to it," Marisa Jensen said in an interview with ABC News. This year Franny and Matilda applied their own makeup and facial hair to become America's 21st president, Chester Arthur and eighth president, Martin Van Buren, sideburns and all.


HHS EXTENDS OBAMACARE SIGNUP DEADLINE. The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the deadline for people trying to enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through the federal website until Sunday, February 22. The original deadline was Sunday but consumers cited technical delays and long wait periods on the phone. This is in addition to the states who announced extensions via their own exchanges over the weekend, ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports. "For those consumers who were unable to complete their enrollment because of longer than normal wait times at the call center in the last three days or because of a technical issue such as being unable to submit an application because their income could not be verified, we will provide them with a time-limited special enrollment period for March 1 coverage," a spokesperson for HHS said in a statement. The spokesperson said only people who started trying to enroll before the extension can take advantage of this extension - although it's not clear how HHS will verify whether users started signing up before or after February 15th.


@ZekeJMiller White House: Due to inclement weather, the daily briefing has been cancelled

@ajjaffe And yet. RT @capitalweather : The winter storm warning has been canceled as accumulating snow has ended across region.

@CHueyBurnsRCP War on women clarion call sounded anew: Emily's List launches new campaign targeting GOP presidential candidates …

@bethreinhard NH will be "do or die" primary for @GovChristie , reports @heatherhaddon @reidepstein via @WSJ

@MatthewArco ICYMI: Christie disclosed presidential platform for the first time