Obama’s Leaked Immigration Plan, Golfing Trip Cause Stir

BY Christina Bellantoni  February 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM EDT

President Obama; photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama arrives Friday in Florida, where he spent the weekend. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

What will generate more outrage on Presidents’ Day: a leaked legislative blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform or a golf outing with Tiger Woods?

President Obama jaunted to Florida for some time with the guys this holiday weekend, but since Washington never takes a break from politics, it was anything but quiet back home.

USA Today got ahold of and published what it dubbed a “draft of a White House immigration proposal.” The paper said the document, being circulated to government agencies, “mirrors” the plan built by a bipartisan group in 2007 and would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years.

USA Today reports that people in the United States illegally “could apply for a newly created ‘Lawful Prospective Immigrant’ visa” and, “If approved, they could then apply for the same provisional legal status for their spouse or children living outside the country.”

The leak comes as bipartisan groups in both chambers are drafting legislation that could be ready in a matter of weeks. Advocates say a deal hasn’t seemed this close in years.

The differences in what lawmakers have called for and what was leaked over the weekend are difficult to spot. The White House plan calls for more funding for enforcement and would create a system for the Department of Homeland Security to accept donations to fund increased border security.

To be clear: Both would create a framework for a path to citizenship for the majority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

The gang of eight plan includes no dollar figures for border security and includes less detail than the White House document on employment verification systems that would need to be in place. Each plan says criminals won’t qualify. Each has a “get to the back of the line” provision.

White House officials called the outline a “backup plan” and said it is in keeping with what Mr. Obama has said about his preferred timeline for Congress to come up with a plan. But the umbrage meter was cranked to 11.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the members of the bipartisan Senate group working on a deal, called the White House proposal “dead on arrival” and said it would “actually make our immigration problems worse.”

“It fails to follow through on previously broken promises to secure our borders [and] creates a special pathway that puts those who broke our immigration laws at an advantage over those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally,” Rubio said in a statement.

The Fourth Estate was just as ticked at Mr. Obama on Sunday as word got out that Woods was golfing with the president.

The White House Correspondents Association formally complained that pool reporters trailing Mr. Obama for the trip were not given access to as much as a photograph of the two on the links.

“[A] broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the president of the United States this entire weekend,” said Ed Henry, Fox News’ chief White House correspondent and president of the association. “There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency.”

There’s also a lingering question of how a reporter with Golf Digest was in place and tweeting at the exclusive resort before the golfer-in-chief even arrived.

One more thing ruffling feathers: Mr. Obama’s campaign style push following Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman reports on Mr. Obama’s focus on the middle class and on doing whatever he can via his executive powers — without having to rely on Congress:

The president went to his hometown to announce a “Promise Zones” initiative, which brings together federal aid to buttress local efforts to improve housing, schools and job opportunities, particularly in distressed communities. En route to Chicago, principal deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest spoke to reporters about the plan:

“What we can do is we can devote resources from the Department of Justice to fund law enforcement programs. We can dedicate funding from HUD to expand housing options in these communities. We can dedicate money from the Department of Education to improve schools and to expand educational programs. Integrating all these programs is critical to offering a ladder of opportunity to the families that live there.”

Going outside Washington — and around Congress — follows a pattern that’s crystallized in the last two weeks. On Friday, the White House forecast for a president on the road entreating the public to help him help “the middle class” was: Expect more.

“There’s nothing he likes better,” deputy press secretary Jaime Smith told the NewsHour. “It allows the peoples’ voices to be heard. You’re going to see a whole lot more of that in next four years.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas has more on a conference call for supporters hosted Saturday by the newly re-sprouted Organizing for Action group (formerly known as the Obama campaign), starring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and top campaign aide Jon Carson. The focus was the middle class.

AFTER NEWTOWN

On Monday, PBS begins a week-long series exploring every facet of the societal debate in the wake of the tragic shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. The package features broadcast pieces on signature PBS programs, starting with a NewsHour report on how the community of Aurora, Colo. is reacting to the national debate. Then Tuesday, we’ll look at violent video games. It also includes robust online offerings you can check out here.

Watch the preview here or below:

Find all the details about which pieces are airing and when here.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

Next week, the Supreme Court will examine a constitutional challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The landmark case asks whether the act is still necessary and whether voters still risk disenfranchisement in certain parts of the country. The New York Times’ Adam Liptak previewed the arguments from challenger Shelby County, Ala., and U.S. government attorneys.

The NewsHour will examine the questions this case raises, and we’d like your help as we go even deeper. We’re starting an Oral History project asking these simple questions:

Do you remember when the Voting Rights Act became law? How did that change affect your life and your community during the Civil Rights Movement? How did you see if affect others?

Christina explained the project on Friday’s NewsHour. Watch here or below:

You can record your memory now using the button below, or call (703) 594-6PBS to share your story.

LINE ITEMS

  • Federal prosecutors on Friday filed charges against former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., saying he engaged in the illegal misuse of about $750,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and gifts, including Michael Jackson memorabilia. He is expected to plead guilty and serve 57 months in jail.

  • National Journal examines how the gun debate is dividing Democrats competing for Jackson’s seat. After spending big against former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PAC endorsed former state representative Robin Kelly on Friday. And State Sen. Toi Hutchison dropped out of the race to endorse Kelly over the weekend.

  • The New York Times sheds light on the partisan forces helping fuel the drama over New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s ethical troubles.

  • Sari Horowitz shadowed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the day of the State of the Union and pens a terrific behind-the-scenes story about her newly found voice on gun violence.

  • Paul Kane examines the frustration of committee chairmen on Capitol Hill as they work to reassert their power on the legislative process.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee bought its first ad of the 2014 cycle, against Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire.

  • Stu Rothenberg on the Republican civil war.

  • Rubio has raised heaps of cash off his thirst.

  • Despite remaining coy about his bid for the Senate on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is attending a fundraiser given in his honor in Florida next month.

  • Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., has a daughter he only learned about a few years ago. And he accidentally tweeted at her during the State of the Union.

  • Slate’s Dave Weigel opines on Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s path to the governorship in Virginia.

  • Agriculture Secretary and former Gov. Tom Vilsack will not run for Senate in Iowa.

  • The Post ponders D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s future.

  • Whiskey drinkers, you can relax now.

  • Monday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA details which degrees will earn you a bigger paycheck.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • The NewsHour on Friday talked with Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times about Mr. Obama’s campaign on gun control. Watch here or below:
  • Mark Shields and Michael Gerson found Rubio’s recovery from taking a drink of water to be charming and a political winner. They discussed that and more. Watch here or below.
  • Sarah Clune looks at the links between pregnant women taking folic acid and lowering a child’s risk of autism.

  • Paul Solman explores the president’s minimum wage proposal.

  • Our report with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Friday’s “celestial close call” is here, and here is a handy primer on when to call something a “dirty space snowball.”

TOP TWEETS

Terence Burlij, Katelyn Polantz and politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.