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Tea Party's Immigration Revenge, Part 2. By Roger Algase

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Revised update, October 19, 1:36 pm:

In another October 18 article, The Guardian again warns people who think that the Tea Party's defeat on the shutdown/debt ceiling issue will clear the way for action on other issues, including immigration reform, that the road ahead may not be so easy - US shutdown fallout: why the show of bipartisanship is unlikely to last

The Guardian reports:

"Ted Alden, an immigration reform expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, says: 'Many of the same 87 House Republicans who voted to reopen the government on Wednesday could easily vote for the Senate Immigration bill if it was brought to the floor by Boehner.'"

But why is Boehner refusing to bring the Senate CIR bill to the floor? It is the same old story - fears that he may lose his speakership and, what The Guardian describes as "a desperate battle for survivorship among congressmen who fear black marks among interest groups will lead to a primary challenge".

The Guardian continues:

"'Heritage and Freedomworks will double down but people tell me the chamber [of commerce] has been really chastened by this' says Alden.' I think business will refuse to fund Tea Party candidates now, which will at least even the playing field for moderates.'"

In America's thoroughly corrupted electoral system, where there are few if any limits left on the power of big money to influence elections, while non-white, younger and less well off voters (including many middle class ones) are denied access to the polls in many states through GOP voter suppression tactics, the demise of the Tea Party, which is essential if immigration reform is to pass, may come about because of big business. Big business, which is inherently conservative in the real sense of that word, may be on the point of deciding that the Tea Party radicals no longer serve its interests. Then, at long last, we may have immigration reform.

But this may take a long time. Last month, Politico reported that radical right wing groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund are raising big money to attack Senate Republicans who refuse to toe the Tea Party line on the ACA and other issues. This money, much of which is reportedly from small donors, would also without any question be used for primary challenges against Senate and House Republicans voting for comprehensive immigration reform. See Politico, Senate Conservatives Fund roils GOP, September 29, and Huffington Post, Senate Conservatives Shutdown Strategy Led To Record Fundraising, October 19.

The following is my original October 18 post:

In an October 17 editorial, the Washington Post joins the chorus of well-meaning immigration supporters who, like President Obama, look on the recent (and perhaps shortly to be repeated - Ted Cruz is not going away anytime soon) shutdown/debt ceiling disaster as a distraction that is now over so we can get back to passing immigration reform. See House Republicans can break the immigration impasse.

Certainly the House Republicans can pass immigration reform - if they wish. Kim Jong-Eun can also bring about peace and friendship between North Korea and the rest of the world - if he chooses.

But how willing is the Tea Party dominated House Republican caucus to talk about immigration reform, after the hit that the GOP hard-liners have taken over their (so far) failed attempt to blow up the ACA, keep the government shut down and sink the world's economy?

Have the Tea Party and its House Republican allies seen the light, and are they ready to respect the wishes of the great majority of the American people on immigration reform? Let's see what GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy has to say about this.

USA today reports the following about Gowdy's view on the chances for immigration reform (Unlike shutdown, GOP says Democrats must bend on immigration, October 17):

"'Good luck', said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, who chairs the House immigration committee...

It's a little disingenuous to treat the House as an irrelevant branch of government and then say "By the way, tomorrow you'll need to go ahead and push (immigration reform)" said Gowdy, who has been moderately supportive of immigration changes and says he maintains good relations with House Democrats.

'It doesn't work that way.'".

USA Today doesn't mention what kind of immigration changes Gowdy has been "moderately supportive" of, but here's one: the SAFE Act, which would make staying in the US without authorization a federal crime and would give state and local governments the same powers over immigration enforcement that the federal government now has.

See International Business Times: House Panel Approves U.S. Rep Trey Gowdy's SAFE Act Immigration Bill. Which Makes Staying In The Country Unlawfully A Federal Crime, June 19.

A more realistic view comes from The Guardian, which make the following dry comment (US government gets back to business as parties feel effects of shutdown crisis, October 18):

"Hoping to start his own stalled agenda, Obama urged lawmakers to concentrate on three items in the coming weeks: a balance plan to reduce long-term deficits, legislation to overhaul the immigration system and passage of a farm bill. This may prove wishful thinking, given the continued rancour and recriminations among Republicans." (Emphasis added.)

In other words, immigration reform is not likely to move ahead as long as the Tea Party Elephant is still in the room - or House Chamber, to be more precise. To bring about reform, the Tea Party must first be led out of the room and taken back to the zoo.

It would also be interesting if the Tea Party supporters could explain why they were so anxious to shut down the whole government, except for just one part of it - ICE - which runs the immigration lock-up and deportation mill. Why don't we hear anything from the right wing Republicans about reining in that part of "big government" too?




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Updated 10-19-2013 at 12:51 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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