One of the lesson’s we’ve learned from divided government over the past several years is that nothing at all gets done unless it absolutely has to. That’s been the case with the deals that have been struck to avert government shutdowns, raise the debt ceiling and avoid the “fiscal cliff.” But America’s immigration system falls into the category of problems — like entitlements — that should be addressed, but won’t be because there’s no date certain that they must be.
Whether or not lawmakers are earnest about wanting to resolve the issue, politically, all sides could live with doing nothing. Democrats would still be able to use it as a wedge issue and Obama could argue he really tried on immigration this time, but Republicans were simply intransigent. Conservative House members could go back to their districts and say they successfully blocked amnesty. Republicans like Rubio could argue that they really wanted immigration reform to happen, but Obama was simply unwilling to compromise to get it across the finish line. As long as all sides have fall back positions in the event that nothing gets passed, it’s hard to see how this survives the legislative meat grinder.