Reality Check: Can Republicans Stop President Obama's Immigration Reform?

With President Obama promising to move forward on immigration reform, Republican lawmakers are scrambling to devise a strategy to stop the President. However, Republicans have yet to settle on how to best react, and it seemingly is in large part because the options available to them come with big risks.

The three tactics getting the most attention among lawmakers are defunding certain government agencies, shutting down the government, and taking legal action. Most political experts note that each action has the strong potential to inflame Latino voters whose support Republicans will need if they hope to win the 2016 presidency.

Getting into the specifics of each tactic may lead many peoples' eyes to glaze over, but understanding them at a basic level is helpful in seeing what new levers of control Republicans will have when they assume complete control of the Congress at the start of the year.

Defunding specific government agencies. As things stand, the President has repeatedly asserted he has the power to expand (and even change) certain immigration-related programs that Congress has already approved. But as clearly stated in the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the power of the purse -- Republicans could decide to halt any or all funding for specific programs.

And as reported in The Hill, here's how that would work: "Republicans... [would] include specific language [in a bill]... to bar federal law enforcement officials from spending any money on processing applications, benefits or work permits for illegal immigrants."

Shutting down the entire government. Republican leaders have repeatedly said their goal isn't to shut down the government, but before the year's end, a spending bill for all government agencies must be passed and signed into law.

With the government set to run out of money on December 11, forcing a showdown over shutting down the government may be the only real power Republicans have.

As The Atlantic's Russell Berman explained, "there isn't much else [aside from the government spending bill] that the administration is demanding of Republicans that it otherwise would expect to receive in the lame-duck Congress."

Impeaching and/or suing the President. Hardline Republicans have mentioned both as viable options. As CNN's Dana Bash noted, "House Republicans already approved to challenge his authority to implement Obamacare. Although the House voted to sue the president in July, the formal legal paperwork hasn't been filed with the courts yet."

However, it's not clear if either legal course would actually hold water constitutionally.

Contact Us