The White House wants congressional Democrats to tout border security, holding illegal immigrants accountable, and “ensuring everyone plays by the same rules” when defending President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration to be announced Thursday night.
The White House's talking points, obtained by BuzzFeed, stress a policy of prioritizing felons for deportations, which appears to back up various news leaks that Obama plans to grant legal status to parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents and limiting deportations to those convicted of serious crimes other than crossing the border illegally.
The one-pager repeats several lines, which could be an indication of what the president will hone in on Thursday. Here’s what to expect from Democrats addressing some key points.
1. It's not amnesty
The talking points say, “Taxes and background checks aren’t amnesty. That’s accountability. Doing nothing—that’s amnesty.”
2. The president’s legal authority and Congress’ role
“Every President for more than half a century, both Democrats and Republicans, has taken executive action on immigration,” the talking points say. “The President’s actions are temporary. House Republicans need to do their job and pass the bipartisan Senate bill to provide a permanent fix.”
The document continues, “These are common sense steps, but only Congress can finish the job. As the president acts, he’ll continue to work with Congress on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill—like the one passed by the Senate more than a year ago—that can replace these actions and fix the whole system.”
3. Who to deport
The talking points reiterate, “prioritize deporting felons not families,” and add, “We need to focus on deporting felons, not families; criminals, not children.”
4. What to say to Republican threats on funding
Some Republicans in Congress have talked about not funding Obama’s executive action. The White House's view on this seems geared to making Democrats look tougher on enforcement than the GOP.
“Republicans are blocking funding to conduct millions of background checks,” the documents says. “Another Republican shutdown, but this time over collecting taxes from undocumented immigrants.”
On Thursday morning, Obama hinted at another point he would talk about in his prime-time address, during a White House event awarding 19 recipients with the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
“Too often we are losing talent because after the enormous investment we make in students and young researchers, we tell them to go home after they graduate,” Obama said. “We tell them to take their talents and potential someplace else.”
Obama said the country needs “an immigration system that doesn’t send away talent, but attracts it,” and added, “so that’s what I’ll be talking about a little bit tonight.”