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Report: House GOP Kills CIR for 2013. Will the President Act? By Roger Algase

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Update: 10:58 pm, October 25 (revised 10:09 am, October 26).

According to a late afternoon October 25 article in the Huffington Post Immigration Reform Not Dead Yet, Advocates Insist, some immigration advocates are upset with the media for publishing so many negative stories to the effect that reform is dead. This includes the latest report that the House GOP leadership will not allow a vote this year on the Senate passed CIR bill or any other immigration proposal. See the Politico articles discussed below.

This seems to me like a case of blaming the messenger. The reason for the negative articles is that there are a lot of negative facts to deal with, the main ones being Speaker John Boehner's announced refusal to allow any reform bill to come to a vote that is not supported by a majority of the House GOP caucus, and that most House Republicans appear to want to avoid any bill that could lead to a conference with the Senate.

Underlying this is the stranglehold that extreme right wing anti-immigrant groups such as the Tea Party and Heritage Foundation have over the House Republicans, as well as some influential Senate ones such as a certain Senator You-Know-Who from Texas.

These are structural realities that are not going to change from day-to-day depending on whether media coverage is optimistic or pessimistic, or an how many "piecemeal" reform bills House Republicans claim to be working on but are unwilling to release in their ongoing shell game.

It is not "piecemeal" that is the problem, in and of itself. It is that there is very little sign that the Republican leadership plans for these bills to go anywhere. Given the content of some of the ones we already know about, that may be a good thing.

If the media can be faulted for its coverage of immigration reform, it would be in focusing too much on the details of the latest pseudo-proposals by influential House Republicans, such as one by Darryl Issa which would, in effect, transform 11 million unauthorized immigrants into guest workers for six years without any guarantee of being able to stay in the US after that, while downplaying the Tea Party's threats of retaliation against any Republican to refuses to toe its hard line against "amnesty" and the obvious effect these threats are having on John Boehner and other House GOP leaders.

If the media wanted to publish a really informative article about the status of immigration reform, it should have a title such as "Why are John Boehner and other House GOP leaders so scared of the Tea Party and Heritage Action?"

Update: 7:25 pm, October 25

Not every House Republican is happy with the GOP's leadership's reported decision not to allow a vote on any immigration bills this year, as described in an October 25 Politico article discussed below in my original post.

Politico's immigration reporter Seung Min Kim writes in her article House GOP leaders hit from within, which appeared later on October 25, that Nevada Republican Representative Joe Heck, who represents a swing district that is about 15 per cent Latino, says that the lack of movement by the GOP leadership on immigration reform is "extremely frustrating and very disappointing".

At least not all House Republicans are acting like puppets pulled by the strings of Heritage Action and the Tea Party, while putting their heads in the sand in order to avoid seeing the reality of America's racial and demographic changes.

The following is my revised original post, which has been modified to reflect my reaction to my respected colleague Matt Kolken's October 25 post, as well as his comments below, about the suicide of a young woman in immigration detention:

It's now official. All of us who have been "Waiting for Godot" [the title of Samuel Beckett's 1953 play in which the main character never appears] can now rest assured that Godot is not coming - at least not this year. Politico reports on October 25 that there will be no vote on immigration reform this year in the GOP controlled House of Heritage Action (formerly known as the House of Representatives). See House GOP plans no immigration vote in 2013.

And, LOL with getting any kind of reform through the House in the election year of 2014. That means that reform may, in all likelihood, have to start all over again at square one in 2015. It may have little chance even then, unless the Democrats are able to take back the House despite red state voter suppression laws and safely gerrymandered districts for Tea Party candidates.

Of course, the GOP is trying to blame the President Obama and the Democrats, such as in the absurd statement by Senate Gang of Eight Marco Rubio (R-FL) that the Obama administration "undermined" negotiations over CIR by refusing to defund the ACA.

(What negotiations? The House Republicans have been doing everything in their power to avoid a Senate/House conference or any other meaningful discussions with the Democrats over CIR.)

Pro-immigration conservatives and business groups which had been running ads supporting reform are now going silent, according to the Politico report, while waiting for more "momentum" in favor of reform to build up.

Clearly, the same Heritage/Tea Party radicals who recently shut down a large part of the federal government and almost blew up the entire world economy appear to be winning the battle for control of the GOP, and the Republicans are turning away from the Latino and other minority voters whom they had been jolted into trying to reach out to after last year's election. Instead, they are choosing to cement their position as the party of wealthy white men only.

Is this a good strategy for the Republicans? Not according to an October 9 Politico article by Rob Paral, a political researcher and consultant, entitled Republicans can't ignore minority voters

Paral give the examples of two anti-reform House GOP Representatives, Ed Royce (R-CA) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) whose districts are becoming increasingly made up of non-white voters and could be facing problems in holding onto their seats next year.

He writes:

"These patterns are being repeated in Republican districts across the country and, they reflect a larger narrative of American racial and ethnic change."

If Heritage Action and the Tea Party have been leading the GOP lemmings off a cliff on ACA, they are clearly leading it off another one on immigration reform.

The apparent demise of CIR, at least until 2015, now places the burden of action squarely on President Obama. Will he use his broad executive powers to grant deferred action on deportation to 11 million brown immigrants? Or will he continue to be America's Deporter in Chief, thus showing his noble statements in support of immigration reform to be nothing but hollow pretense?

There needs to be more discussion of how much power the president actually has to act on his own, not only with regard to granting relief from deportation, but with respect to making improvements in the legal immigration system and changing his own administration's "culture of no".

If the president actually uses his broad powers over immigration (as well as in other areas such as keeping the government open and preventing a US default) will he also run the risk of impeachment proceedings?

Even if stays within narrow limits, the Republicans are very likely to try to impeach him anyway, since this has been their goal almost from the day he first took office.

After all, President Obama is, on a daily basis, committing the "high crimes and misdemeanors" of being PWB - President While Black.

I will return to the question of how much power the president has over immigration and what he might be able to do to reform both deportation and the legal immigration system on his own in future posts. For the time being, this looks like the only game still left in town for immigration reform.

It is far from clear that it is one that this president, who is still deporting people who pose no harm to this country at the fastest rate in history, breaking up families, leaving American children without their parents, and causing immigrant suicides in the gulag known as the US detention system (see Matt Kolken's October 25 blogging) has any interest in participating in.

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Updated 10-26-2013 at 09:09 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. MKolken's Avatar
    It's up to the President?!?!?! You mean the guy who is about reach the two million deportation milestone?

    And I'll see your race card and raise you this: Obama's deportation record is one of discrimination "Obama's program of mass deportation is on par with other racially tainted tragedies in our history: Indian boarding schools that kept Native American children from their parents; internment camps where Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans were forced to live during World War II; and the Jim Crow laws that denied equal opportunities to African Americans."
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    People can change, Matt.

    Earl Warren, who was the driving force behind the Japanese-American internment, later wrote the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

    I agree that BHO has inflicted terrible damage on over a million people and their families. But the idea that he did (and is still doing) this because he hates brown people is not very convincing.

    Don't forget to give spinelessness its due.

    Roger Algase
  3. MKolken's Avatar
    I'm sure the fact that Obama doesn't "hate brown people" is very comforting to the family of this woman who just committed suicide in her detention cell after being ordered deported:
    Updated 10-25-2013 at 03:54 PM by MKolken
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I am not a serial apologist for Obama's cowardice and there is no excuse for the suffering he is creating for millions of innocent people. I also agree that he is the worst possible president for immigration who could have been elected last year - except for the alternative.

    Roger Algase
    Updated 10-25-2013 at 11:58 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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