Michael Keegan's blog

The GOP Responds to President Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration

On May 19, President Obama’s executive action on immigration that would have protected millions of undocumented parents from deportation were set to go into effect. But because Republican politicians have – for now – blocked the programs in the courts, the action is on hold.

While Obama’s executive actions on immigration keep children and families from being deported for no other reason than their undocumented status, Republicans see these actions as “treasonous”, putting us at risk of “civil war.” People For the American Way has documented the extremity of the responses from Republicans and their far right base to the immigration executive actions.

GOP Presidential Candidates:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush

Said President Obama’s executive orders are like decrees of a “Latin American dictator.” [Bloomberg, 3/7/15]

Called President Obama’s executive actions on immigration “an abuse of power.” [CNN, 11/21/14 ]

Ben Carson

Claimed President Obama’s executive action is part of a “nefarious agenda” to bring government-dependent voters to the U.S. [Right Wing Watch, 11/21/14 ]

Speaking about Obama’s executive actions on immigration, said: “Our president is very much like Putin.” [The Daily Caller, 11/21/14 ]

Said Americans should “start talking about treason” if the president refuses to comply with the GOP’s demands to reverse his executive actions on immigration. [Right Wing Watch, 5/4/15 ]

Sen. Ted Cruz

Claimed President Obama’s immigration actions are like “counterfeiting immigration papers, because there’s no legal authority to do what he’s doing.” [America’s Voice, 1/22/15 ]

Called DACA “lawless” and “wrong.” [America’s Voice, 9/9/14 ]

Suggested the Senate “not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/20/14 ]

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee

Claimed President Obama’s executive actions are “wholly unconstitutional,” an “insult to the American people,” and like the “tyranny of King George.” [America’s Voice, 1/22/15 ]

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Called Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration “a cynical attempt to change the topic.” [Bloomberg, 11/20/14 ]

Sen. Rand Paul

Equated President Obama’s immigration action with internment camps for the Japanese: “Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people, ‘We’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all your rights and liberties and we’re going to intern you in a camp.’ We shouldn’t allow that much power to gravitate to one individual.” [MSNBC, 11/12/14 ]

Sen. Marco Rubio

Declared that he “would love to defund the immigration order.” [America’s Voice, 12/15/14 ]

Former Sen. Rick Santorum

Commenting on the executive actions, said: “The president has acted like a tyrant and he has acted against the Constitution and he has thrown the Republicans and he has thrown the country a curveball, we’ve never dealt with anything like this before…That has to be not just backing Republicans in a corner, it’s backing Americans in a corner of a president who thinks he is above the law and above the Constitution.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/21/14 ]

Current and Former GOP Elected Officials:

Rep. Steve King (IA)

In a conversation about responding to the President’s immigration executive actions, Steve King said, “there’s probably no better time to fight than now and no better time to risk a government shutdown than now.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/10/14 ]

Said executive action by President Obama providing deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants living in the United States would perhaps irrevocably destroy “our constitutional republic” by turning the United States into a “lawless third-world nation” and Obama into a “king.” Said the “I-word” (impeachment”) “is on the table because our republic is on the table.” [Right Wing Watch, 10/22/14 ]

Called DACA “deferred action for criminal aliens.” [Right Wing Watch, 7/31/14 ]

Said that if President Obama were to take executive action on immigration “our constitution will be torn asunder,” and that he may push for Congress to shut down the government or impeach President Obama in order to prevent the country from “descending abruptly into an abyss that we have never seen in the history of this country.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/14/14 ]

Rep. Mo Brooks (AL)

Suggested Congress should pass a contempt citation against the president for his “reckless conduct,” because then Obama would drop his executive actions since he, like Richard Nixon, wouldn’t want to “incur the wrath that comes with a contempt citation with potential fines and jail time.” [Right Wing Watch, 2/3/15 ]

Said the executive actions are part of a plot to “dilute the vote of American citizens by bringing in millions of foreigners who are going to be dependent on welfare and handouts and hence will be dependent on the Democratic Party for their livelihoods.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/24/14 ]

Stated, "At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president's conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States…That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it." [Talking Points Memo, 11/20/14 ]

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

Around the time that Obama announced his executive actions, Kobach claimed it’s possible that a Hispanic majority in the U.S. could conduct an “ethnic cleansing.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/20/14 ]

Sen. Tom Coburn (OK)

Predicted that because of the President’s executive actions, “you're going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence.” [USA Today, 11/20/14 ]

Rep. Trent Franks (AZ)

Asserted that Obama’s immigration executive actions “literally could be the death of the Republic.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/3/14 ]

Rep. Lamar Smith (TX)

Said the “extreme fringe of the Democratic Party” supports executive action because it “wants to treat those from other countries better than we treat our own American citizens” and ultimately is “banking” on the votes of new immigrants. [Right Wing Watch, 11/18/14 ]

Rep. Walter Jones (NC)

Claimed that Republicans have “constitutional duty” to impeach Obama because of his immigration actions. [Right Wing Watch, 2/11/15 ]

Rep. Mike Kelly (PA)

Claimed Obama’s immigration actions will push the country into an “internal crisis” not seen since the days leading up to the Civil War. [Right Wing Watch, 11/19/14 ]

Maryland County Council Member and Christian Reconstructionist Michael Peroutka

Asserted that Obama’s immigration action “certainly is an act of treason because it’s aiding and abetting the enemies of America and giving them comfort and aid.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/21/14 ]

Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN)

Said that if President Obama were to take executive action to prevent the deportation of some undocumented immigrants living in the United States, his goal would be to “flood our nation with millions of sure-thing Democrat [sic] voters” who would rely on “the United States government as their source of supply.” [Right Wing Watch, 10/31/14 ]

Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst

Referring to the “tsunami of unaccompanied children,” and the President’s executive actions, Dewhurst said, “If we don’t stop the bad guys at the border, they’re going to be in your hometown tomorrow.” [Right Wing Watch, 9/26/14 ]

Former VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli

Said that America is being “invaded” by immigrants “one person at a time” and that President Obama is guilty of “encouraging the invasion” with his executive actions. [Right Wing Watch, 3/6/15 ]

Former Rep. Paul Broun (GA)

Said Obama’s executive actions are “illegal and unconstitutional,” stated that Obama is “acting like a dictator,” and urged congressional Republicans to “stop this runaway, imperial presidency.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/4/14 ]

Former Congressman Allen West (FL)

Stated that the president’s immigration announcement will provoke “an incredible cry from the American people” so that Republicans won’t even “need to talk about it.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/19/14 ]

Far Right Leaders

Conservative Activist Phyllis Schlafly

Said Obama’s executive action on immigration resembles the Southern bombardment of Fort Sumter, which led to the beginning of the Civil War, adding that the move is even more inscrutable than Pearl Harbor bombing because “with Pearl Harbor, the American people knew what was happening.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/20/14 ]

Speaking about the executive actions, stated: “It’s just an outrage, and it does spell the death of probably the country.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/3/14 ]

Obama’s executive actions would lead to “suicide for America because he would be bringing in people who will vote Democratic…I think it’s worth impeachment.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/17/14 ]

Author and Radio Host Michael Savage

Connected President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform back to Adolf Hitler’s implementation of his Lebensraum policies. [Right Wing Watch, 11/21/14 ]

Said immigration actions amount to “criminal activity” that should trigger an attempt by Republicans to arrest the president “for usurping the Constitution and Congress.”  Added that the actions would be “a treasonous act against the American people,” for which he could “then be arrested and tried for treason.”  [Right Wing Watch, 10/23/14 ]

Head of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), William Gheen

Recommended that sheriffs “arrest the president of the United States” because of the executive actions. [Right Wing Watch, 11/20/14 ]

Stated, "As Americans loyal to our Republic, flag, and the Constitution, we are required to rebel en mass against any enemy foreign or domestic that attempts to destroy our nation from within as Obama is attempting to do by decreeing amnesty for millions of illegals!" [ALIPAC, 11/19/14 ]

Campaign Operative Richard Viguerie

Stated that the President’s executive actions “could ignite, quite frankly, a civil war across America against the Democratic Party.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/7/14 ]

Talk Show Host Glenn Beck

Said the President must have taken executive action on immigration to start a race war. [Right Wing Watch, 11/19/14 ]

“Infowars” Host and Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

Said of the executive actions: “This really is the end of the republic, the end of Congress… We are going the way of Rome bringing in the giant third-world populations, and it seems to be an accelerated collapse-of-Rome timetable now.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/3/14 ]

Anti-Muslim Activist Pamela Geller

Warned that the executive actions would be the “death knell” of America. [Right Wing Watch, 11/19/14 ]

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

Called the President’s actions “an impeachable act” and said the 2014 election was a rejection of Obama’s “lawlessness.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/14/14 ]

American Family Association’s Sandy Rios

Recommended “impeachment” for “socialistic” Obama because of his immigration actions. [Right Wing Watch, 11/14/14 ]

Trunews Host Rick Wiles

Referring to arresting President Obama, said “This is the only way you deal with a hooligan, you tell him we’re coming with handcuffs, we’re going to lock you up.” [Right Wing Watch, 11/21/14 ]

Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh

Said the executive actions are meant to “open the flood gates to the third world.” [Media Matters, 11/21/14 ]

This post originally appeared on PFAW.org.

Don't Let The Right Wing Co-opt King

Washington, D.C. is gearing up for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I will be among thousands of Americans gathering on the national mall this weekend to remember those marchers and to rededicate ourselves to their demand that the country make good on its promises of equality and opportunity for all.

The fact that politicians from across the political spectrum want to associate themselves with King is a big change. Fifty years ago, he was reviled as a Communist sympathizer trying to undermine what some said was God's design that the races live separately. March organizer Bayard Rustin was denounced by segregationist Strom Thurmond on the floor of the Senate for being a communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual. This year, Rustin will be posthumously awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

So it is a reflection of social progress that so many conservative Republican lawmakers and right-wing leaders try to wrap themselves in the moral authority of the civil rights movement. But it's also a reflection of cynical political posturing.

Right-wing leaders are fond of rhetorically embracing King's dream for an America in which children "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Unfortunately, they often use the quote to justify their opposition to any policies that are designed to address the ongoing effects of racial discrimination.

Right-wing politicians shouldn't be allowed to get away with pretending to share King's moral high ground simply because legally mandated segregation is now unthinkable in America. There was so much more to King's - and the movement's - vision.

King was an advocate for government intervention in the economy to address poverty and economic inequality. He was a supporter of Planned Parenthood and women's right to choose.

He endorsed the 1960s Supreme Court decisions on church-state separation that Religious Right leaders denounce as attacks on faith and freedom. One of his most valued advisors, Bayard Rustin, was an openly gay man at a time when it was far more personally and politically dangerous to be so.

How many Republican leaders today will embrace that Martin Luther King?

It is true that a strong majority of congressional Republicans voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. It is true that many of our civil rights advances were made with bipartisan support. But today many Republican leaders at the state level are pushing unfair voting laws that could keep millions of people away from the polls. And many not only cheered the Supreme Court's recent decision gutting the Voting Rights Act but moved immediately to put new voting restrictions in place.

Today's Republican leaders are also captive to the anti-government ideology fomented by the Tea Party and its right-wing backers. Let's remember that the official name of the event we are commemorating is the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Among the marchers' demands were a higher minimum wage and a "massive federal program" to provide unemployed people with decent paying jobs. Sounds like socialism!

Today's right-wing leaders say it's wrong to even pay attention to economic inequality. To Rick Santorum, just using the term "middle class" is Marxist.

We must not allow this historic anniversary to become a moment that perpetuates an ersatz, sanitized, co-opted version of King and the movement he led. Let's instead reclaim King's broadly progressive vision - for ourselves and for the history books.

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

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