House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday might have doused the prospects for immigration reform this year, but Senate Democratic leaders are simultaneously stoking hope and bashing the GOP over the issue…
“I am not thrown back by Speaker Boehner’s statement,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and a member of the immigration Gang of Eight that helped pass legislation in the Senate last year. “He’s in a very difficult position. He is trying to figure out, in my judgment, how to get this done without his caucus or too many in his caucus rebelling.”
But Schumer’s sympathies went only so far. He continued: “But I think the leadership of the Republican Party knows that if they don’t do immigration reform, they have big problems down the road, and even immediately. And this idea that it’s gonna be easier to do in a presidential year? Come on.”
“They’re developing a trend here. Shutting down the government. Shutting down immigration reform. It’s the Shutdown Republicans Caucus. That isn’t what the American public sent us here to do,” said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois.
In the days after the retreat, Boehner continued to move forward, issuing promotional materials about the principles. Rep. Jeff Denham of California, a top proponent for moving on immigration, told Breitbart News that leadership wanted to bring legislation to the floor as soon as possible.
With Boehner continuing to march forward, top immigration hawks had begun to organize much more dramatic responses to try to head him off.
“There has been talk among House Members about forcing new leadership elections in the House to include a new Speaker if they try to bring an immigration bill to the floor this year,” a senior GOP aide said Wednesday. The GOP member and two other aides said such discussions had occurred among House Republicans.
Republicans can also point to myriad examples of the Obama administration’s selective enforcement of existing immigration laws. The list is longer than even some GOP opponents of comprehensive reform realize…
Since 2009, the Obama administration has repeatedly invoked executive authority to limit the ability of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to follow the law, and has severely restricted their ability to initiate deportations proceedings, even against illegal immigrants who have been arrested on felony charges…
House Republicans say border security must be addressed before any other aspects of immigration reform are considered, and the Obama administration’s attitude on border security has been nonchalant at best.
Following a February 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office, the administration was forced to admit that it lacked any official metric by which to assess the security of the Southern border, which ran afoul of legal mandates established in 2006. According to the New York Times, administration officials said “they had resisted producing a single measure to assess the border because the president did not want any hurdles placed on the pathway to eventual citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.”
Boehner, however, is not interested in any of this. He is not demanding that Obama rescind DACA, or open closed Border Patrol stations, or let states enforce their own immigration policies. The same corporate donors that are pushing the House leadership to pass amnesty now, have zero interest in ever seeing any immigration laws enforced ever.
Instead, here is what Boehner did say… “You know, last week we sent a letter to the president outlining four bills that he talked about in the State of the Union that are sitting in the United States Senate,” Boehner continued, “whether it’s the SKILLS Act, the research bill, a couple of other bills. The president could reach out and work with us on those and begin the process of rebuilding the trust between the American people and his presidency.”
In other words, if Obama is willing to force Senate Democrats to move on the House leadership’s existing jobs agenda, then that would build enough trust so that Boehner would feel comfortable bringing amnesty to the floor later this year.
If Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) suddenly starts taking up the House passed jobs bills, then the amnesty fix might be in. But if Reid keeps stonewalling the House, then immigration isn’t going anywhere.
“[Obama will] come under withering pressure to act,” Sharry tells me. “And of course he’ll move by executive action. He doesn’t want his legacy to reflect the fact that he deported more people than any other president. He’ll have no choice.”
If that happens, Sharry continues, you could hear some on the right begin to agitate for impeachment — just as the GOP presidential primary is getting underway.
“If he hasn’t acted earlier, Obama could roll a hand-grenade into the middle of the Republican Primary,” Sharry said, adding that even if impeachment chatter is confined to the margins, it will make legislative action by Republicans on the issue all but impossible: “They will have squandered their shot at getting right with Latinos and Asian Americans for a generation.”
Even if there is no impeachment chatter, any executive action would itself make any action by Republicans on the issue harder still. And even if Obama does not take executive action, there is also the prospect of immigration reform getting tied up in GOP presidential primary politics, which some GOP operatives dread because it could drag the field to the right heading into 2016.
[I]mmigrant groups do eventually find themselves able to vote for the party that historically opposed their entry. Although Coulter is right that immigrants have gravitated to the Democrats, the descendants of the 19th century great wave voted overwhelmingly for Nixon and Reagan. Many of them have come to view themselves as true conservatives, even if a century earlier America’s true conservatives wanted to ship their great grandparents back to Europe…
The relationship between the composition of the American people and the ideals adopted by the parties that seek to represent portions of them is complex. We cannot predict how the addition of new immigrants will pressure and cleave the Democratic coalition. But, in general, our two political parties have accumulated so much inherited power, including the power to change, that it is difficult to imagine either of them ever being mortally wounded…
Whatever mass immigration does to transform America, the Republican Party will find a way to live. It will likely find new ways to be conservative, and over time it will attract the grandsons and granddaughters of today’s immigrants.