Can’t be true. Between this and “The Walking Dead” being on hiatus, what am I going to whine about now?
Here’s how grim it is or amnesty fans. The Hill quotes Nancy Pelosi this morning as pining for the days of … George W. Bush.
The two-year attempt to push immigration reform through Congress is effectively dead and unlikely to be revived until after President Obama leaves office, numerous lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the issue said this week…
Two recent developments … appear to have doomed whatever slim chances remained, advocates and lawmakers said. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary election this month to a tea party challenger who ran on a strong anti-immigration platform. In addition, a new crisis erupted on the Mexican border, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children apprehended crossing the border illegally into Texas over the past several months…
During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing this week, some GOP members suggested that the United States should, among other things, cut off all economic aid to Mexico until the border is secure, build hundreds of miles of new fencing to help prevent more illegal immigration and immediately put the children arrested by Border Patrol officers on buses back to their home countries.
WaPo frets that replacing Cantor with a moderate like Kevin McCarthy won’t do much to restore immigration’s momentum, which is doubtless true in the short term. McCarthy’s eager to show conservatives that he’s One Of Us; meanwhile, new House majority whip Steve Scalise, who’s supposed to be the conservative brake in leadership on Boehner’s and McCarthy’s RINO-ier tendencies, isn’t going to turn around and push amnesty as one of his first official acts. (Michele Bachmann claims Scalise told her that he doesn’t support legalizing illegals.) So, sure, it’s done for the year, which is why Luis Gutierrez was hyperventilating on the House floor yesterday.
But done until 2017? After spending $23 million and counting to crush the tea party in GOP primaries this year, Republican business interests aren’t going to let Boehner sit on his ass for two more years. Neither are Republican consultants, who seem uniformly to believe the party will never get a fair shake from Latinos until it proves its good faith by adding a few million illegals to the Democratic voter rolls. The pressure on Boehner to pass something next year, before Obama, Hillary, and other Dems go into immigration-pander overdrive for Latino voters in 2016, will be enormous. The one X factor, as WaPo notes, is the surge of illegals at the border lately. That’s expected to continue through 2015; if it does, the politics of introducing some sort of amnesty bill in the midst of it may be simply too toxic for Boehner to try. I thought he and Cantor would end up settling for a smaller amnesty, like DREAM, in lieu of comprehensive reform to mitigate upset among conservatives while building goodwill with Latinos. But Cantor’s gone now and DREAM seems harder than ever considering how many of the illegals crossing into the U.S. now are minors. (And most of them aren’t going home.) Irresistible force versus immovable object next year, then: Does Boehner obey his business masters and make Republican strategists happy by passing amnesty in spite of it all, or will the facts on the ground in Texas and Arizona kill the whole project until there’s a new president? If you’re the Chamber of Commerce, having vomited endless attack ads at the right this year in the name of securing cheap labor, how’d you like to be told now that you may have to take your chances with a White House that’s more conservative than the current one?
Democrats are at a fork in the road too. Which way do you go next year if you’re O, towards a minimum or maximum pander? He’s going to do something small soon on deportations to appease advocates like Gutierrez; Biden is meeting privately with immigration groups about it today. But as long as the surge of illegals at the border continues, the politics of a broader amnesty are risky even for liberals. The more people come across, the easier it’ll be for the GOP to convince voters that we need to add border security and postpone legalization, lest it create a further incentive for people to come. For Obama to do something dramatic on immigration in the midst of that, he’d have to be sure that he’d gain more Latino votes for Democrats in 2016 by doing so than he’d lose votes from the rest of the electorate. How could he be sure? And if he does do something bold, like a mass moratorium on deportations, what does Hillary do? If she comes out in opposition, she risks alienating the very voters that Obama’s pandering to. The only way to make the politics of this easier, both for the White House and for Boehner, is for O to stop the surge at the border from illegals. The worse it gets, the more paralyzed all key actors will be.
Here’s Marco Rubio, who used to talk a lot about immigration reform and doesn’t bother much with it anymore, speaking yesterday about ways to economically empower the middle class. You don’t suppose that message might attract some Latinos — and members of every other group — to the GOP as a 2016 platform, do you?