The Subjects of Immigration and the Latino Vote Dominated All Five of the June 17th
Network Sunday Public Affairs Programs
By Micheal E. Hill
Sunday, June 17, 2012 -- 3:28 pm EDT
--Updated on Monday, June 18, 2012, at 1:20 am EDT--
Thanks to the Obama Administration's announcement last Friday that it will provide prosecutorial discretion and work authorization to DREAM Act children, there was lots of talk during the June 17, 2012, public affairs programs about immigration and the Latino vote, with extended discussions occurring on all five of the network Sunday public affairs programs.
Appearing on four of the five programs, Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe defended the President's DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative and excoriated former Governor Mitt Romney's immigration policies and record. Plouffe asserted on the programs that the decision was made by the Department of Homeland Security, not the President, and he declared that the policy was really a law enforcement decision that will enable the Department of Homeland Security to concentrate on deporting people who are a danger to the United States.
Making his first non-Fox News appearance on a network Sunday public affairs program during the 2012 campaign, former Governor Romney ducked the question of whether he supported the Obama Administration's DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, refusing to answer a question that was posed four times about whether he would leave the Obama initiative in place if he was elected president. Instead, Governor Romney derided the Obama initiative as a stop-gam measure, criticized President Obama for not moving on immigration legislation during the first three-and-a-half years of his presidency, declared that he would work with Congress to enact legislation addressing the long-term needs of DREAM Act children, and indicated his support for border control and employment verification measures.
A plethora of legislators, journalists, and political pundits also spoke out about the Obama DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative. Among the current and former legislators and governors commenting on the initiative were Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, former Governors Howard Dean and Tim Pawlenty, and former Senator Rick Santorum. Political pundits who weighed in on the initiative include former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove and former Edward M. Kennedy and Howard Dean advisor Joe Trippi.
The following is a summary of the immigration-, refugee-, or demographic-related comments that were made during the June 17, 2012, Sunday public affairs programs:
ABC - This Week. The guest list for the June 17, 2012, edition of ABC's "This Week" program included White House Senior Advisor and 2008 Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, who defended the Obama DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, saying criticisms of it from Governor Romney was ironic, given the Governor's pledge to veto the DREAM Act and the Governor's assertion that undocumented aliens in the United States should self-deport themselves. Plouffe said that the President has tried to get Congress to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, but that Congress has refused. He spoke about the temporary, stop-gap nature of the President's initiative and said that it "simply gives the Homeland Security Department and our law enforcement officials the opportunity to enforce the law with some discretion and allows these young people who came here, many times early in their lives, who want to serve in our military, work in our businesses, and study in our colleges the ability to apply for a two year period for work authorization." When confronted with Republican assertions that the President's initiative violates the Constitution, Plouffe said that attorneys in the Administration "are absolutely confident this is within our authority."
Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program were Romney National Campaign Co-Chair and Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN); ABC News' George Will, Political Strategist and ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Former Obama Economic Adviser and ABC News Consultant Austan Goolsbee, and Editor and Publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel, all of whom engaged in a spirited discussion on the President's initiative.
- CBS - Face the Nation. The guest list for the June 17, 2012, edition of CBS's "Face the Nation" program included Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), the presumptive 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, who made his first appearance on a non-Fox News network Sunday program of his 2012 campaign. During his appearance, Governor Romney was critical of President Obama on immigration, asserting that if the President really wanted to do something to help undocumented children, he would have taken the subject up during the first three-and-a-half years of his presidency rather in the last several months of it. As for his own solution, the former Governor said, "first of all, we have to secure the border. We need to have an employment verification system to make sure that those who are working here in this country are here legally." Continuing, Governor Romney said, "and then with regards to these kids who were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is." He said, "this is something Congress has been working on. I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forth by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democratic senators, but the President jumped in and said 'I'm going to take this action'," implying that the President's initiative may have impeded progress toward dealing with the problem. He said that he "would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those who have come in illegally and I have said that for instance that those who serve in the military I would give permanent residence to." He repeatedly declined to answer the question of whether he would leave the President's prosecutorial discretion order in place while he worked on a long-term solution with Congress, saying "we'll look at that setting as we reach that."
Also appearing on the program were Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), a one-time Republican leader on comprehensive immigration reform, and Former Governor and Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean (D-VT). The two debated the merits, the legality, and the politics of the President's DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, with former Governor Dean praising it and Senator Graham criticizing it. Senator Graham was particularly scornful of the President's initiative, decrying the President for "doing nothing on immigration reform" during the first three-and-a-half years of his presidency. He accused the President of telling officials "to stop enforcing the law" and of "going around Congress and the American people." He listed a number of immigration problems that he said "were left unaddressed" by the President's initiative, accused the President of being political, and said most Hispanics will see the initiative as "too little too late."
Appearing during the journalists roundtable segment of the program were The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, National Review & TIME Magazine's Richard Lowry, CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson. The panelists engaged in a lively discussion on the President's DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, with John Dickerson saying of Romney, "he basically ducked" when he was questioned about his position on the initiative, and he accused both the President and Romney of being political on the issue. Peggy Noonan said that, "in a way, it is good that one part of a bill has been put forward discreetly." She added, however, "it was so Obamaesque that he did it in a way that was crassly political, and it is also unclear whether or not it is wholly, legally justified and legally doable."
CNN - State of the Union. The guest list for the June 17, 2012, edition of CNN's "State of the Union" program included White House Senior Advisor and 2008 Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, who defended President Obama's decision on prosecutorial discretion for DREAM Act children, asserting that the decision was made by the Department of Homeland Security, declaring that it was an immigration enforcement decision that is temporary in nature and that is not amnesty. He said the only way to fix the situation is for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which the President would sign and that Governor Romney would veto. He denied that the President's decision was a political move and said it gives law enforcement personnel the ability to focus on criminal aliens. Also appearing on the program was former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), who until recently was a candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination. Senator Santorum said of the Obama prosecutorial discretion initiative, that "the most outrageous thing was the process in which he did it. The President basically said I am going to selectively enforce the laws of this country." Senator Santorum added, "there is a difference between someone who is actually out there on the street making a call as to whether to charge someone with a crime or not than have a policy at the top saying we are going to carte blanche order people not to enforce the law." He said that Governor Romney's hesitancy to attack the President's policy frontally is likely a result of him "trying to walk a line where he doesn't sound like he is hostile to Latinos in very important states." However, he said the President needs to be hammered on "this habitual abuse of power."
FOX - FOX News Sunday. The guest list for the June 17, 2012, edition of FOX's "FOX News Sunday" included White House Senior Advisor and 2008 Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, who defended President Obama's decision to grant prosecutorial discretion for DREAM Act children, saying "this is not a permanent fix. This was prosecutorial discretion." He said "this is going to allow our law enforcement agencies to focus on deporting criminals" and that "we need to focus on the real threat here: people who are endangering our communities; not people who are studying in school, working hard." He said, "you have people who were brought her in many cases at very young ages by their parents who are studying in our schools, working in our businesses, who want to serve our military. This allows them to apply just for a two-year period for work authorization." He said "there's only one way to fix this permanently. And that's for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which is something that, unfortunately, Governor Romney has said he will veto if he becomes President." When asked if there is a clear choice for Hispanic voters between President Obama and Governor Romney, Plouffe said that "on immigration, this is a President who has tried to get immigration reform done in a comprehensive way. We came close to getting the DREAM Act done. So this is someone who believes that we are a nation of laws but also a nation of immigrants." He said that "Governor Romney has said he would veto the DREAM Act. Governor Romney essentially said that the 11 million people here ought to just go home they ought to self-deport. So this is someone you're not going to be able to trust." He said, "President Romney, if he is elected, is not going to fix our immigration system. He has been very clear about that."
Appearing during the roundtable segment of the program were Bill Kristol, Editor and Publisher of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News Contributor; Joe Trippi, Former Campaign Manager for the 2004 Presidential Campaign of Former Governor Howard Dean (D-VT); Karl Rove, Former Senior White House Advisor to Former President George W. Bush; and Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst. The panel commented extensively on the Obama Administration's DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, with Kristol declaring, "I think it is a sensible policy." He cautioned, though, "that the policy pushes the edges of the limits of prosecutorial discretion." However, notwithstanding that, he declared, "I think it's the right thing to do." Rove said of the Obama initiative, "I appreciate President Obama continuing the Bush era policies of prioritizing investigations and removals of criminal aliens." He said, however, he was troubled because "we examined these questions significantly during the Bush years and concluded we had no statutory authority to offer a blanket exemption from deportation without a change in the law." Continuing, Rove declared, "I don't think he has the authority to do this in a blanket way" adding, "I think he's on very shaky grounds." He said that the Obama policy "is significantly different" from the DREAM Act, saying it was a narrow policy but that "this is better handled by Congress." On the politics of the issue, Joe Trippi said, "I think this is a big step for the Administration and for the campaign in the sense that it articulates moving forward." He said, "on this issue, Romney is behind George Bush." Rove criticized then-Senator Barack Obama for having voted for "every union amendment to gut comprehensive immigration reform."
NBC - Meet the Press. The guest list for the June 17 2012, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press" program included White House Senior Advisor and 2008 Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, who defended the President Obama's decision to grant prosecutorial discretion and work authorization for DREAM Act children. During his appearance, Plouffe asserted, "this was a decision made by the Homeland Security Department ..." He said that relief will be granted for a two year period to DREAM Act children, and that decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. He said that DHS made an enforcement decision in opting to provide relief to children. He said that under the Obama Administration, there has been an 80 percent increase in deportation of criminal aliens. He said "Mitt Romney has said he would veto the DREAM Act" and "send everyone home." He asserted that, "if you're looking for comprehensive immigration reform, Mitt Romney is not your man."
Also appearing on the program was 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who was once the lead Republican in Congress in support of comprehensive immigration reform. During his appearance, Senator McCain was sharply critical of the Obama DREAM Act prosecutorial discretion initiative, asserting, "the thing that may disturb people after the initial euphoria is over about this is that the President of the United States is now dictating that certain laws will not be enforced. That is a rather serious step." McCain said, however, that he didn't think he would attempt to stop the initiative legislatively, given the agenda that currently is facing Congress. The Senator asserted that Senator Marco Rubio and others have been working on a DREAM Act proposal but that, "if the President were really serious, maybe he would call [Rubio] and some of us who have been involved in this issue." He criticized the President for not acting on immigration earlier in his Administration, given the President's promises on the issue in 2008. He said that the President's initiative is "obviously a way to divert attention from very bad news the President has had over the last three or four weeks." He said that "Senator Rubio and others both Democrats and Republicans" are working on a version of the DREAM Act and he thinks "we could negotiate on" that measure. Senator McCain declined to criticize Governor Romney's earlier assertions that he would veto the DREAM Act, saying that "Mitt Romney has said recently, and as short a time ago as this morning, that he is willing to address this issue but he and a lot of us would like to see this addressed in comprehensive immigration reform because we need guest workers -- both in the high tech sector and in the farming community." He said, "we need to address those remaining 10 million people who are here illegally; not just the children who are brought here illegally." The Senator went on, accusing then-Senator Barack Obama of undermining the McCain-Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform legislation, saying that Senator Obama's guest worker amendment was one of the issues that killed that bill.
Click on the Play Button, above, to view the immigration- and Latino Vote-Related Video Clip from the June 17, 2012, Sunday Public Affairs Programs