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Is Immigration Reform Dead? If So, What Happens Next? By Roger Algase

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
There are two views about whether immigration reform is dead in the House of Representatives. I will start with the optimistic one, as set forth in a July 31 article by Dan Nowicki in the Arizona Republic: Immigration reform backers see hopeful signs in House.

(Sorry, I do not have a link. It can be found easily through Google.)

This article gives the following reasons for optimism, despite the hostility that House Republicans are showing toward the Senate CIR bill, S.744.

First, immigration supporters will use the August recess to put renewed pressure on House members for reform. Of course, opponents will be going into action too.

As an article quoted in my July 31 post mentioned, House members are anxious not to be screamed at during August town hall meetings. No doubt, many of them will. The Tea Party is not exactly overlooking this issue, in its mainly older white members know how to scream - especially at Latino, Asian and Black immigrants.

To use another analogy from Jewish folklore (see my July 30 post) many of the big business groups that were instrumental in creating the Tea Party in the first place in order to give a fake grassroots image to a campaign by the insurance company lobby to bring down the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") are now on the side of the same minorities and the less well off, whom the ACA was designed to protect regarding health insurance, with respect to immigration reform.

However, the Tea Party has now turned into a Golem on immigration, and just as in the Jewish legend, it is turning against its creators and wreaking havoc with them.

Second, influential House members such as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) have come out in favor of legalization and, possibly, a very limited path to citizenship, for at least some Dreamers and a few others who may be eligible through "regular channels".

This, it is hoped, may at least form a basis for negotiations with the Senate about a final bill which could pass both Houses.

Third, Boehner and other House Republican leaders have spoken out against Iowa Republican Representative Steve King's vile accusation that many Dreamers were "drug mules". But they have not removed him from an immigration subcommittee where he still sits. Nor have they censured him, which should be the very least action taken against him.

Finally, the Arizona Republic article cites Tamar Jacoby, the highly respected reform advocate and leader of a coalition of pro-reform business groups, as being optimistic about reform. But in her position, Jacoby arguably has no choice but to sound optimistic, and quoting her has at least some resemblance to entering the echo chamber.

Now for the pessimistic view, as decribed by California freelance journalist Eli Wolfe in the July 30 Politics (not to be confused with POLITICO).

In his article: Immigration Reform 2013: Why It Died and When It's Coming Back, Wolfe zeros in on the main reason that immigration reform is in such deep trouble in the House:

(I am again sorry that the blog system does not post this link correctly, so Google is once again recommended to access this article too.)

"But if Republicans need long-term changes in their immigration policies to remain competitive in the Latino population, they have little to gain from immigration reform in the short term. An analysis written earlier this year by Nate Silver noted that of the 232 Congressional Districts controlled by Republicans, a mere 40 have populations that are more than 20% Hispanic and only 16 of these are at least a third Hispanic, which means few Representatives have a serious reason to push for reform that is not necessarily popular with a majority of their constituents."

Wolfe's conclusion is:

"With stiff resistance in the House, a speaker who doesn't want to risk his job, little political urgency on the right to attract Latinos and the August recess around the corner, the best bet is not to count on a reform bill-comprehensive or otherwise-surfacing until January, when reform measures will most likely be brought to the floor."

And what happens if immigration reform supporters patiently wait until January - when the 2014 mid-term election campaign will already be well under way - and nothing happens for reform then?

It is not unlikely, as Wolfe also suggests in the same article, that the Republicans may wish to postpone the entire immigration issue until after the midterm elections, when they might have hopes of retaking the Senate by a narrow margin, especially since the recent Supreme Court Voting Rights Act decision may make it harder for Latino and other US citizens of color to vote in many states next year.

If reform dies this year, and is not brought back to life soon, what will be the options for reform supporters, and especially for President Obama? Will he sit by passively and let his administration deport another million or so Latino, Asian and Black immigrants during his second term, or will he seek to push his administrative powers to their Constitutional limits in order to accomplish goals that the House Republicans had blocked him from achieving in order to pander to their anti-immigrant white base?

And if the president does test the limits of his authority under the Constitution to protect millions of non-white immigrants from incarceration, deportation and separation from their American citizen children, will he be prepared to risk the possibility - perhaps the likelihood - that anti-immigrant House Republicans will try to impeach him?

If immigration reform dies, President Obama's second term may be an interesting one - for him. and for the future of immigration in America.

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Updated 08-01-2013 at 08:18 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. MKolken's Avatar
    Immigration reform isn't dead in the House. The GOP will likely pass piecemeal reform. The question becomes will the Senate Democrats block whatever is passed because it doesn't include an illusory pathway to citizenship such as what has been provided in the Senate bill. It is safe to assume that the GOP will draft legislation that protects DREAMers, and it is possible that there will be legalization that does not include a separate pathway to LPR status, or citizenship, but that does not also preclude adjustment under normal channels (See Labrador's proposal).

    So the question becomes, if the GOP in the House provides a partial solution that stops the deportation of 11 million, will the Democrats allow reform to fail so that they can "win" the immigration reform debate. If they do they are just as bad as Steve King.
    Updated 08-01-2013 at 02:00 PM by MKolken
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Very reasonable and well argued, Matt (as usual). But this does not, in my view, give sufficient weight to two of the factors which I have been emphasizing in my posts, namely a) the House's poison pills - including an outrageous one such as revoking provisional legal status for up to 11 million unauthorized immigrants if E-verify doesn't get put in place in time to suit the Republicans - as of course it will not - any more than the border will ever be secure enough for most of the Republicans; and, b) the goalpost moving that both House and Senate Republicans have been engaging in until, as I said in a previous comment, the goalposts are already on their way to Mars.

    The House Republicans, except, perhaps,for a few of their leaders like John Boehner, who has no control over the rank and file, do not not want any kind of reform, even token reform for a lucky few Dreamers.

    If the House Republicans agree to any reform whatsoever, their white racist base will boil them in oil - just look at some of the Internet comments I have mentioned - there are hundreds of other right wing hate messages out there, if not thousands.

    The only thing House Republicans want is to offer up a fake reform bill or bills that neither the Democrats nor the immigrant communities can possibly accept - even though they have already compromised so much in the Senate. This fake "piecemeal" reform strategy, designed to rejected by immigration reform supporters, would then set the stage for House Republicans to try to blame the Democrats for the subsequent debacle.

    I don't know if that is Steve King's strategy or not, but I am sure he would not have any problem with it.

    I hope I am wrong about all of this. I want to see reform go through as much as anyone else, even the very imperfect CIR version known as S.744.

    But wishful thinking about the motives of most House Republicans is not going to get us there.
  3. MKolken's Avatar
    The entire Senate Bill is a poison pill. See: Immigration Reform 101 - Unmasking S.744

    Labrador's solution is exponentially better.
  4. Tony Weigel's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MKolken
    The entire Senate Bill is a poison pill. See: Immigration Reform 101 - Unmasking S.744

    Labrador's solution is exponentially better.
    I fundamentally disagree with what some House Republicans are proposing in creating a permanent/temporary immigration status for unauthorized immigrants. After working with a number of employers and a wide variety of pro-reform groups over the past 6 years, a piecemeal, partially effective solution will not work, either politically or practically.

    In an election cycle, any pro-immigration measure can be cast as amnesty. For example, in a fairly recent race between two sitting Republican Congressmen for an open Senate seat in Kansas, one candidate?s prior support for the DREAM Act was painted as a near treasonous act by the other. There is no middle ground for the red state base and the Republican Party leadership dependent upon this base. The tent doesn?t seem big enough for a majority of a majority to support moving a legalization bill, regardless of the inclusion of a ?special? path to permanent residence.

    On the other side, the Republican insistence on no path the permanent resident status, outside of ones that will not be available to many, boils down to eliminating or significantly delaying the threat of new voters who might have paid attention to the Republican Party?s track record on immigration policy over the last 8 years: HR 4437, SB 1070 and its knock offs, the Bush-era of criminal raids, ICE detention deaths, etc.

    Face it ? presuming the Republican?s permanent/temporary legal status scheme becomes law, these legalized people will be represented by proxy by other voters in their Congressional districts. What will the Republican response be then, as seats are re-allocated after the 2020 census? Perhaps they can change the law to only count those with permanent/temporary legal status on a fractional basis or not at all for purposes of representation?

    So, at this point, I am in the ?glass half-empty? crowd. We may not see CIR unless and until the Republicans lose control of the House. There are three components to solving our immigration policy problems: legalization, enforcement, and adequate means for people to temporarily and permanently immigrate to the U.S. If any one of the components is fundamentally deficient and dysfunctional, why bother doing anything at all right now?

    Tony Weigel
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    If the Republican right wing were not so infected with racism, it would realize that their party might have a big opening against Obama from the left on immigration.

    Republicans could, for example, support all the border security and E-verify they want, while going along with the pathway to citizenship. Then they could hit Obama as the Deporter in Chief, which he is - and someone who did nothing to help Latinos on immigration until he was forced to do so last year by the necessities of electoral politics - a basically unprincipled chief executive.

    If the GOP played its cards intelligently, it might be able to pick up quite a few of those 11 million new Latino and other minority voters - when they do become citizens, (which might not be in the lifetime of my generation, even if CIR passes).

    But the Republican right wing (which means most Republicans), is so blinded by racism that they are incapable of a strategy based on on reason and reality.

    Roger Algase
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