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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Immigration Has Republican Governors Seething and Facing Practical Challenges

From The New York Times:
 
BOCA RATON, Fla. — President Obama’s impending executive action on immigration is unleashing the fury of Republican governors who now control a clear majority of the nation’s statehouses — and not entirely for the reasons that partisans might expect.
 
The new legal protections that the president is poised to bestow on five million illegal immigrants Thursday will immediately thrust the issue back to the states, forcing dozens of governors who vigorously oppose the move to contemplate a raft of vexing new legal questions of their own, like whether to issue driver’s licenses or grant in-state college tuition to such people.
 
For Republican governors, the resentment is now as much operational as it is ideological.
 
The rapidly unfolding issue quickly overtook what was supposed to be a three-day victory lap here at a pink flamingo-colored resort where they have gathered for the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association.
 
Instead of crowing about their electoral romp in the midterms, in which they captured 31 statehouses — the most since 1998 — the governors on Wednesday were bombarded by inquiries about how they would grapple with the practical and political repercussions of Mr. Obama’s action.
 
Many of them seethed visibly over the issue. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas accused the president of “sticking his finger into the eye of the American people” after an election that gave Republicans control over both houses of Congress.
 
Several governors threatened legal action to block the measure. “I would go to the courts,” said Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. “This is illegal.”
 
Mr. Perry called a lawsuit against the Obama administration “a very real possibility.”
 
But amid the promises of retaliation and obstruction, many of the governors began to confront the sheer complexity of the new legal landscape for millions of their residents.
 
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas said that his Republican-controlled State Legislature would never stomach the concept of issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, even after Mr. Obama had given them worker permits and shielded them from deportation.
 
“That would be very difficult in our state,” he said.
 
For some of the governors, the issue took on a strikingly personal dimension. Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine recalled the difficulty that he and his wife had encountered obtaining a green card for the Jamaican teenager they have taken into their home.
 
“It took us nearly 11 years,” he said. “Why should everybody just get one tomorrow?”
 
Asked if he would embrace greater legal standing for immigrants in Maine, such as worker permits, after Mr. Obama issues his measure, Mr. LePage swatted away the idea as “unacceptable.”
 
He then added, “I am fighting it, not helping it.”
 
For those weighing a presidential run in 2016, responding to Mr. Obama’s action requires some nimbleness: They must appeal to those conservatives who loathe Mr. Obama’s unilateral move without alienating Latino voters who crave a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.  
 
But here in Florida, before a crowd of devoted Republican donors and activists, the governors offered few of the compassionate overtures to Latino voters that have characterized their campaigns back at home or detailed alternatives to replace Mr. Obama’s action.
 
A number of those likely to run for president simply avoided offering direct or firm answers.
 
At one point, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was asked if he supported deporting illegal immigrants. He demurred, saying that “we will deal with people here illegally compassionately and fairly” before calling for greater security at America’s borders, a message echoed by most of his colleagues.
 
As he has in the past, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey refused to specify a plan for dealing with illegal immigration, saying he would not articulate a plan until he had decided whether to run for president.
 
Going perhaps the furthest of any potential presidential candidate, Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, when pressed on citizenship for undocumented people, said, “I’m open to it, I will tell you that.”
He added, “We have to think about what’s going to bring about healing.”
 
Both Mr. Jindal and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana suggested that Congress could use its budget authority to deprive the president of the money required to carry out his immigration action.
 
Mr. Pence, a former House member, encouraged Congress to “use the power of the purse to work the will of the American people.”
 
Normally restrained, Mr. Pence could barely contain his frustration.
 
“Every major change in the life of our nation has been done with the consent of our government,” he said. “I think it would be a profound mistake.”

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