A year ago, Barack Obama planned to push comprehensive immigration reform in 2010 in order to split the Republican Party. Four months ago, Obama and the Democrats launched attacks on Arizona for attempting to enforce immigration law while the federal government ignored the problem. How has that GOP-splitting strategy worked for Obama and the Democrats thus far?
Not well (emphasis mine):
House Democrats are considering adding a border security bill to the agenda when lawmakers return to vote on emergency aid for states.
Under pressure from the White House, Democratic leaders in the House were discussing on Friday the possibility of adding the Senate border security bill or a similar item to their mid-recess schedule next week.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters on Friday that the administration has been in talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office, pressing the lower chamber to take up the measure when it returns next week to vote on a $26 billion state aid package.
Obama has had the entire issue blow up in his face, and entirely through his own doing. In the first several weeks of the Gulf spill, Obama spoke more often about the Arizona law than about the disaster unfolding off the southern coast. Democrats have attempted to use this to paint Republicans as reactionary and bigoted.
And they have belatedly discovered that border security actually matters to Americans. Instead of splitting the GOP, Arizona’s get-tough approach has gained large majorities of support in almost every state. Advocates of comprehensive reform have had to retreat back to a borders-first approach. Democrats who had hoped to use immigration as a distraction from the disaster of their economic policies now want to move the issue off the table as fast as possible.
It’s not just Democrats in the House, either:
During a Friday conference call, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) similarly pressed House leaders to act.
“I hope the house takes it up when they come back on Tuesday,” McCaskill said.
So far, Nancy Pelosi hasn’t responded, but that may be because she’s a little shell-shocked. It’s hard to be responsive after having had your strategy blow up in your face.