Immigration is going nowhere, with the current Congress unable to find agreement on a way forward.
The Republican Party laid out its principles for reform, and the Speaker said he wanted legislation in 2014, but it now looks like nothing will happen. The reason for this appears to be that immigration is a losing issue for Republicans; they often represent constituencies with less than 10 percent Latino voters, so there’s no payback for Latino friendly policy, and White constituents don’t want reform. With a number of elections coming up, that could favour Republican candidates, engaging with this issue is considered a waste of effort politically.
One issue could be, that although the GOP laid out its principles for reform, leading with border security, they never defined exactly what that security ment. With a couple of thousand miles of border to deal with, any comprehensive solution will not be cheap, and so stalling over a contentious issue seems to have been chosen as the way forward. A senate bill that would have spent billions on the issue was defeated in the house, so even when a clear opportunity to define security came along, it wasn’t supported.
The Republican leadership has also brought up the issue of trust of the president. The Republican caucus, and their constituents, were deeply unhappy about the scale of the Affordable Care Act, and have repeatedly challenged it on constitutional and financial grounds. However the act is hoped to bring down federal health spending, by relieving emergency rooms of unnecessarily advanced medical conditions. Obama also effectively expanded the DREAM Act by executive order so that children brought into the country could have temporary legal status, which seemed reasonable at the time. Earning back trust with the GOP is unlikely to be a strong motivating factor for Obama at this point in his presidency, certainly not as long as the economy continues to recover. So without their cooperation, and support, immigration is not going to go anywhere.
It is also believed that the GOP are papering over the cracks between their House and the Senate members, as they are unable to find a unified approach, and public fights are not going to help in an election year. Long gone are the amnesties of the Reagan years. Although without immigration reform it seems increasingly unlikely, that the candidate selected to run for president by the GOP in 2016, will be in a good position to win. Barack Obama took a huge number of women voters with him in his fight for the presidency, if/when Hillary runs, she will more than likely do the same. It likely goes without saying that Latino voters will not look favorably on the GOP without a mechanism in place for their family members to find a path to citizenship.
The accusation Boehner made recently, that the president cannot be trusted “to enforce our laws,” is undermined by the record numbers of deportations that have been carried out under Obama, and the fact that no federal intervention has been made to reduce the numbers.
In the meantime the debt ceiling is raising its head again, and congress is still negotiating over a possible extension of unemployment benefits. With all these political distractions, you can be certain immigration reform is going nowhere.
Editorial by Andrew Willig