With Democrats looking down the barrel of electoral disaster in the approaching midterms thanks to their obsession with a deeply unpopular health care bill instead of the economy, it should not surprise anyone that they have little stomach for pushing yet another unpopular measure in the short time still left for their majority. Rep. Luis Gutierrez let the cat out of the bag Thursday by acknowledging that the Democrats’ 77-seat majority in the House wouldn’t be enough to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. The next Congress will look even worse:
A leading proponent of comprehensive immigration reform admitted Thursday that “there are an insufficient number of Democratic votes” to pass a bill this year.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-Ill.) comments are significant because he has aggressively pushed President Barack Obama to pass immigration reform during this Congress.
The Illinois Democrat appeared at a press conference Thursday to tout that 102 lawmakers — all Democrats — have signed on to his reform measure.
“There are an insufficient number of Democratic votes to pass this in the Senate or in the House. I’ve said it. There are an insufficient number. We are 102 strong, we are 102 commitment, but we are insufficient,” Gutierrez said.
The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congress are not rosy either. There will likely be fewer Democrats in both chambers, and some Republicans who previously backed a guest-worker program have shifted their positions. And there are many centrist House Democrats who have made it clear they will not support any bill that could be criticized as an “amnesty” measure.
In 2009, Obama had planned to tackle immigration as his third big project, after ObamaCare and ObamaCap. Unfortunately, the health-care debate took far longer than Democrats planned, thanks in large part to an eruption of voter anger last summer over the sudden attempt to expand government control of the US health care system. The cap-and-trade bill is still languishing in the Senate after passing the House almost exactly a year ago, and is also so unpopular in the swing states of the Coal and Rust Belts that Democrats are just as reluctant to address it.
In fact, immigration reform may have become even more toxic than ObamaCap, after the state of Arizona radically reframed the issue — thanks in large part to Barack Obama himself. As soon as Arizona took the non-extraordinary step of requiring its law-enforcement agencies to check immigration status on those already detained for other purposes — a process that the federal government trains state and local police to perform — Obama wasted no time in scolding Arizona for demanding border security and immigration enforcement. That immediately backfired, as large majorities of people in states across the nation not only supported Arizona but also similar laws for their own states. The argument shifted from normalization to the ineptitude and outright dereliction of duty by the federal government on enforcement.
Under those circumstances, only Democrats with absolutely secure seats in the House will dare to back Obamnesty. The fact that Gutierrez can only find 102 Democrats in the House to volunteer shows how badly the Democrats have botched their time in power, and how outside of the mainstream amnesty has become.