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Could the Shutdown and Default Fight Help Immigration Reform? By Roger Algase

Rating: 14 votes, 4.71 average.


Update: October 14, 6:20 pm

All of the major media (at least the ones I follow the most - Politico, Huffington Post and Washington Post) are reporting Monday afternoon that Senate Democratic and Republican leaders may be coming closer to agreement on a way to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling for at least a few months in order to relieve the pain that the shutdown is causing to millions of innocent people and the damage that a default to do to America's and the world's economy, not to mention throwing immigration into chaos for a variety of reasons I will enumerate in a future post.

However, even if the Senate finally reaches a carefully, and urgently hammered out agreement, what will happen when it gets into the hands of the House Tea Party radicals and the craven GOP leadership that is afraid to defy them? Will John Boehner or one of his henchmen announce that the Senate agreement is DOA in the House, just as happened with CIR?

Will we have deja vu all over again, with a carefully worked out bipartisan compromise that America urgently needs thrown out by a group of right ring radicals whose only interest is in making America ungovernable and bringing down the president?

Will the immigration reform debacle become a template for even bigger issues with even more dangerous consequences for inaction?

And will the president, who has resisted using Plan B to rescue 11 million immigrants from Tea Party bigotry, use his 14th Amendment debt ceiling power to save our democracy and the world's economy from a Tea Party radical right wing putsch?

The following post was updated at 11:13 am on October 13.

The conventional wisdom is that the Congressional battle over the partial government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling is the worst possible obstacle to immigration reform, because it is turning attention away from immigration and putting reform on the back burner.

Typical of this view are an article in the International Business Times: 2013 Immigration Reform: Another Casualty of Government Shutdown? (October 11) and another article in PolicyMic: Immigration Reform 2013 Could Be Poisoned By the Debt Ceiling Fight
(October 10).

More optimistically, the Christian Post reports: Immigration Reform Moving Forward Despite Shutdown (October 11). All of these articles are based on the view that the fight over the shutdown/debt ceiling is an obstacle to immigration reform, but that CIR supporters are keeping up the pressure for reform in the face of great odds against its succeeding.

However, there is a contrarian opinion, expressed by Matthew Yglesias in an October 2 article in Slate with the title Shutdown is Good News for Immigration Reform. He writes:

"The funny thing about immigration reform is that almost uniquely among the Obama administration's agenda items, lots of Republicans support it."


He continues:

"The problem has always been the 'Hastert Rule' principle. It looked for a little while like Republicans might decide to let it slide this time in the interests of getting the issue off the table. But the decision went the other way, and immigration reform was dead."

But then, he raises a more, if only faintly so, optimistic prospect:

"Given that, the shutdown and the debt ceiling fight sort of count as good news. Not that they make immigration reform likely (it's not likely!) but they [hold out] at least the glimmer of a possibility of some kind of huge meltdown of the House GOP party cartel. The kind of 'centrist coup' that could avert a debt ceiling breach would also open the door to immigration reform."


Yglesias concludes:

"The more the budget fight escalates, the more likely a meltdown [of the House GOP] becomes. It's a thin reed to cling to, but it's the one immigration reform has."

The nearly two weeks after the appearance of this article have done a great deal to support Yglesias' view. Republican centrists are starting to stand up against the Tea Party, and the public as a whole, including many Republicans, are reacting with rage against the Tea Party's insistence on putting its own power ahead of the needs of the country and trying to overturn a duly enacted health care law through extra-Constitutional means that amount to an attempted political coup.

Even federal judges are furious at the way that the shutdown has interfered with the functioning of the judicial system, and with the indifference of right wing GOP politicians such as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama (who is also one of the most vocal opponents of immigration reform) in a country which is supposed to be a nation of laws.

See Politico, Government shutdown: 'It is time to tell Congress to go to hell.' (October 13)

Polls show approval for the GOP as a whole sinking to an incredibly low 28 percent. The 21-hour rant against the ACA by the Tea Party demagogue, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)) may turn out to have been his "Joe McCarthy moment" (for those who are old enough to remember the 1950's) that could signal the end of his political career.

Even the ultra-reactionary Koch brothers (who are actually pro-immigration), are beginning to abandon the Tea Party over the debt ceiling issue, and more moderate business groups, who are traditionally big Republican donors, are horrified at willingness, even eagerness, by the Tea Party Know Nothing fanatics to push America, and the world, over the financial cliff.

Some business groups are even talking about financing primaries for saner Republicans against the Tea Party candidates. For far too long, the public has been willing to tolerate the Tea Party's hatred of immigrants and brown people in general. But now that the Tea Party's contempt and disregard for the interests of all Americans, except for its wealthy white far right wing base, is becoming more obvious to a wider public, its stranglehold over the House of Representatives, including the power to continue blocking CIR, may come crashing down in flames.

The 11 million aspiring immigrants whom the Tea Party and other right wing extremists are so eager to deport are in the same boat with the 30 million less affluent Americans and legal immigrants whom the Tea Party supporters are so determined to stop from being able to obtain health insurance coverage.

Increasingly, not only ordinary American voters, but many Republican leaders, opinion-makers and powerful business interests and large campaign donors are coming to see the Tea Party's true colors - or more accurately, color - white.

They are beginning to realize that the Tea Party is not a genuine grass roots movement, except for the traditional right wing populist bigots and nut cases, mainly in the South, midwest and mountain states who, a half century ago, would have belonged to organizations like the John Birch Society which thought that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was a communist.

Not only establishment Republicans, but even some strongly conservative ones, are beginning to react against the danger that the Tea Party poses, not only for immigrant rights, but for America's economy and its democracy, not to mention the continued survival of their own party.

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post is a conservative columnist who was widely criticized for her slavish adherence to every twist and turn of the Romney line during last year's election campaign. To her credit, she has since turned into the conscience of the Republican party, including strong support for immigration reform.

In her October 7 article: Republicans fighting back against the tea party, she writes, with regard to the pushback against leaders of the shutdown by other more rational rational conservative Republicans such as Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist:

"To those who fear that all Republicans have lost their minds, this comes as a relief, no doubt."

She concludes:

"The anti-tea party Republican faction...is justified in its outrage and should be as determined as the tea party in organizing and instilling an ethos in as many fellow citizens as possible. They must, in short, become fiercely moderate, demand officials who exercise good judgment and be willing to fight for a responsible conservative movement that aims to reform and not smash government."

www.washingtonpost.com/right-turn/wp/2013/10/07/republicans-fighting-back-against-the-tea-party//?print=1

The revolt of more rational Republicans, and of the American public as a whole, against the tyranny of the Tea Party can only be good news for immigration reform.






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Updated 10-14-2013 at 05:32 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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