House Republicans To Move Forward On Immigration Reform This Summer?
Rumors are circulating again that the House GOP may make an immigration reform pitch before the midterm elections.
Associated Press Erica Congressional reporter Erica Werner sent out a tweet at the end of last week at seemed to suggest that the House Republican leadership may end up making a run at immigration reform sometime this summer:
Some advocates who’ve met recently with Boehner say he’s talking like he might try for an immigration vote in mid-June.
— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) May 30, 2014
On some level, this isn’t entirely surprising. As I’ve suggested in the past, once it was clear that there wasn’t going to be action on this issue in 2013, the next available opportunity for action would come in the summer of 2014 after the vast majority of the GOP primaries have ended and the party is gearing up for the General Election in the fall. For the most part, we will reach that point by the end of June with the primaries in South Carolina, although there will be runoff elections in some states in July and possibly August depending on how the remaining primaries in states like South Carolina and Mississippi end up going. If there was going to be any action at all in the House on immigration reform, it has been clear for some time that it would come at this point, when House members no longer have to worry about the possibility of a Tea Party challenger using a vote on the issue against them in an primary. This isn’t entirely unprecedented. The last major effort on immigration reform in 1986 was voted on by the Senate in September and by the House in October just as members were getting ready to leave town to campaign for the final stretch of the 1986 midterm elections. Given the fact that the political mood on this issue inside the GOP is far more negative today than it was in President Reagan’s time, it makes sense that Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House Leadership would push the votes off until after the primary period has passed, so that they can potentially swing more Republican votes for the measure(s) than they would at another time of the year.
Not surprisingly, this news of possible House action over the summer is not sitting well with anti-reform conservatives.
Allahpundit, for example, is particularly annoyed:
Outrageous. Not the fact that the House leadership wants to do something on immigration; that’s been common knowledge for 18 months. What’s outrageous is the timing, which, if this AP report is accurate, would confirm our most cynical suspicions about just how gutless and unaccountable Republicans are on this issue. I remember critics predicting last year that Boehner wouldn’t bring something to the floor before the House primaries for fear that a backlash among conservative voters would knock out a bunch of incumbents. He’d wait until just after the primaries had ended to do it, so that conservatives would be powerless to exert any influence over the process.
At this point, it doesn’t matter what the bill looks like. You can guess — some sort of modest ENLIST/DREAM amnesty with new security measures built in, designed to irritate conservatives as little as possible. It’s not the substance of it that’s so egregious, it’s the scrupulous unaccountability they’ve demonstrated in trying to pass it. They could have been honest brokers about this by pushing a bill last fall and letting the political chips fall where they may. If that meant primary challenges, so be it; a party that’s as committed to serving its masters in the business lobby as the GOP is should be willing to brave that risk. If the public, including the Republican electorate, is as eager for reform as they claim, they would have been just fine. Instead they’re waiting until practically the minute the primaries are over to reveal their plan, which, let’s face it, is a form of deception. Just like Marco Rubio running in 2010 against “an earned path to citizenship” for illegals and then backing it in 2012 was deception. Just like Mitt Romney pushing “self-deportation” in 2012 and then urging immigration reform before the midterms this year is deception. Just like Eric Cantor campaigning as some hard-ass amnesty opponent before he inevitably pushes a DREAM/ENLIST bill this summer is deception. These people keep lying to you on the assumption that you’ll eat an infinite amount of garbage and then still happily pull the lever for them in November. It won’t stop until you stop. So stop.
It’s no surprise, of course, that opponents of anything approaching immigration reform that includes any hint of so-called “amnesty” would be opposed to what the House Leadership is purportedly planning on doing this summer even before any legislation is made public. The Republican groups that have been pushing for action on this issue, which include both business organizations and evangelical groups, have made it clear that reform needs to include some provision dealing with the people who are in the country illegally. Indeed, as I’ve noted numerous times in the past, the idea that we could reform our immigration laws without dealing with that issue in a rational manner — and, no, taking the position that everyone here illegally must be deported is not rational — would not even qualify as “reform” because it would not deal with one of the most serious immigration problems that we face today. Leaving it unaddressed, or not addressing it completely, would mean that the reform effort was an utter sham and would inevitably required a future Congress deal with the matter.
The anti-reform crowd, of course, doesn’t care about this. Their single-minded obsession with the fact that some people are in the national illegally, whatever it may be motivated by, makes their entire position on immigration hard to take seriously to begin with. Yes, it’s true that there are people in the country who broke the law. At this point, though, that’s water under the bridge. The question we face now is whether we want to continue to allow them to live in the shadows, where the probability that they will end up in a life of actual crime at some point increases substantially. The answer of the anti-reform crowd, outside of the absurd mass deportation suggestions, is to ignore the problem entirely. That’s not a serious political position, and on some level it strikes me as fine if the Republican leadership just chooses to ignore it and proceed forward with a reform bill this summer.
Rick Moran, meanwhile, wonders why we can’t just wait until next year:
What is the problem with waiting until next year when there’s a good chance the GOP will control both houses of Congress, and won’t have to worry about “amnesty?” The Republican’s piecemeal approach to reform — prudent, realistic, and popular — is a far better alternative than passing a fatally flawed Senate bill that no one expects the Obama administration to honor the enforcement provisions. A GOP bill could put real teeth into those provisions, making it far more difficult for the administration to weasel out of their responsibilities to secure the border.
The problems with the ‘maybe next year’ approach are numerous. For one thing, that is essentially the attitude that Washington has taken on this issue for years now, or at least ever since the last serious effort on immigration reform was shut down by a rebellion on the right. Kicking the can down the road doesn’t solve the problem, i just guarantees that the problem will continue to get worse, and it makes it more likely that the can will be kicked again the next time. Additionally, there’s no reason to believe that the prospects for reform will be better in 2015 than they are now, even if the GOP does retake the Senate. In fact, if we don’t get immigration reform this year, the odds are that we won’t get anything at all until 2016. For various reasons, both sides will find it in their interest to let the issue drag out until the 2016 election, and those Republicans who might have higher political ambitions in 2016 aren’t going to be very willing to take sides on such a controversial issue. Realistically, this is likely the last chance we have to act on this issue before 2017, and there’s really no rational reason to delay action.
We still don’t know if the House actually will move forward with an immigration reform bill, or what the substance of that bill will be. However, given the fact that it seems to be annoying the right people it sounds like they might be on to something here.