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Boehner Kills Immigration Reform - Again: More Reactions. By Roger Algase

Rating: 6 votes, 4.33 average.
Update - November 15, 8:25 am:

Predictably, two Republican pundits, each writing in the Washington Post, are trying to spin John Boehner's kiss of death to CIR by announcing his refusal to negotiate with the Senate over immigration reform as merely a disagreement over process, i.e. the size of the bill, rather than substance.

One article is by George Will: A need for compromise on immigration, (November 14) and the other is by Jennifer Rubin: Immigration reform outlook (also November 14). Links to both articles appear in the November 14 issue of Immigration Daily.

Neither Will nor Rubin are anti-immigrant hard liners. Rubin in particular, even though she was a slavish apologist for Mr. "Self-Deportation", Mitt Romney, during last year's presidential campaign, has frequently spoken out more recently to condemn the GOP's Tea Party wing for opposing any kind of immigration reform.

Both Will and Rubin argue that the biggest obstacle to reform is the Senate's supposed unwillingness to break up its bill into separate legislative chunks, each dealing with a different aspect of immigration reform, as they claim the House is willing to do.

This kind of spin overlooks the fact that the Senate bill itself is the product of hard fought compromise between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate Gang of Eight which wrote the bill. If also overlooks the fact that key Senate Democratic reform supporters, such Charles Schumer (D-NY), have indicated they willingness to break up the Senate Bill into separate pieces in the course of the discussions with the House which Boehner and his Tea Party puppet masters are refusing to allow to take place.

But, most of all, it obscures the real issue, which is that the Senate bill includes legalization and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million brown immigrants, while nothing of the kind is being considered in the House, or likely to be.

As we are also seeing with another measure that would benefit millions of minority and less affluent people, the ACA, the real intent of the Republican right is to kill the law, not to improve it or break it up into more manageable components.

It is unlikely that immigration reform supporters will be taken in by cynical attempts to blame the death of CIR on the Democrats, when it is obvious to almost everyone but George Will and Jennifer Rubin that the Tea Party Republicans who control the House have been out to kill immigration reform from Day One. To all appearances, they have now succeeded.

My original post follows:

The biggest surprise in the reaction to House Speaker John Boehner's announcement on November 13 that he will not allow the House to go to conference with the Senate on any immigration reform bill (see my November 13 post) is that anyone would think this was a surprise.

On the same day that Boehner made his announcement, The Hill published the second installment of its two-part series: How immigration died, part 2: Boehner bails on bipartisan legislation.

The Hill writes, with regard to the failure of the House bipartisan Gang of Eight (later to become the "Magnificent Seven", as I dubbed it) to produce a bill:

"While it was internal squabbles and outside interference that undercut Democrats in the group, it was ultimately a lack of political will that sapped Republicans, according to negotiators and their key advisors."

Most of all, as the article describes, it was Boehner's insistence on following the "Hastert" rule that made it impossible to agree on any bipartisan House bill, because it would never have reached the House floor anyway.

Greg Sargent, writing in the November 13 Washington Post, puts his finger on the real reason for the demise of immigration reform. See: John Boehner just put immigration reform on life support.

Sargent writes:

"There has been a lot of talk recently about how the GOP establishment is going to wage war on the hard-liners within the GOP that are forcing unelectable candidates and deeply unpopular positions on the party. Immigration reform, however, is a clear cut case where this vow isn't mattering in the slightest."

One would have to question Sargent's euphemistic choice of title, however. Back in the early summer, just after the Senate passed its bipartisan CIR bill (S. 744, just in case anyone remembers) right wing pundits William Kristol and Rich Lowry published a joint editorial urging the House to "put a stake through the heart" of immigration reform.

This is exactly what John Boehner has now done.

It is also ironic, to say the least, to see President Obama's reaction to these latest developments. In the evening of November 13, Politico published an article called Obama: Don't let ACA problems stop immigration.

The Politico article reports that in a White House meeting with eight Christian faith leaders, President Obama urged them not to let the debates that are going on about other issues such as ACA stop them from continuing to advocate for immigration reform.

The same article says that even though Boehner's announcement means that immigration reform has "lost momentum", the president "remains optimistic there will be progress by December".

This, from the president who has deported more people, at a faster rate, than any other president in US history and who is refusing so far even to consider using his broad executive power over immigration enforcement to give relief to the great majority of the 11 million people now facing deportation.

This strikes me as being a little like what the situation would have been if Al Capone had called a group of policemen in for a meeting and lectured them about the need to continue fighting against crime.

And what is the point of using words such as "life support" or "lost momentum" to describe the status of immigration reform in Congress now? As Sargent writes:

"We are not getting immigration reform if House GOP leaders are not willing to get the anti-amnesty-at-all-costs crowd a bit riled up at some point in the process. Boehner's quotes today suggest they just aren't willing to do that, whatever the long term costs to the party."

Dead is dead. It is now up to reform supporters to make the case to America's Latino and other immigrant communities that reform died because the Republican party was unwilling or unable to deal with its racist base, and to do everything possible to turn out minority voters in record numbers in the Congressional election a year from now.

This is not going to be an easy task. The Republicans will do everything in their power to throw out distractions, ranging from the disastrous ACA website rollout (which I suspect might have been prevented if more H-1B visas had been available - but I have no evidence for this - it is only a hunch) to, of all things -Benghazi(!)

If those issues don't work to stir up anger and distrust against the president, why not have an impeachment circus? Anything to divert public attention away from immigration reform and how the Republican House leaders killed it because of their cowardice in failing to stand up to the Tea Party white supremacists.

Moreover, the Republicans will redouble their desperate efforts to stop Latino and other minority Americans from voting next year.

But above all, if President Obama continues to refuse to use his broad executive powers over immigration to grant relief from deportation, if not de facto legalization to 11 million immigrants, he will lose the trust and support of America's immigrant and minority communities. Given his record number of deportations, it is amazing that he has maintained their goodwill for so long.

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Updated 11-15-2013 at 03:20 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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