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Commentators: GOP Has Killed Immigration Reform, and That Means Big Trouble for Them in 2016

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Immigration reform legislation is officially dead, and House Republicans are to blame.  Pundits, advocates, politicians, conservatives — pretty much everyone who isn’t part of the Steve King wing of anti-immigrantism — have been warning Republicans of the consequences of inaction on immigration reform.  And still, they’ve done nothing.  As commentators below explain, this is going to come back to haunt them in a big way in 2016 and beyond.  Read more below.

La Opinión (Editorial): A frustrating year:

For 12 months, the Republican majority, particularly its leaders, kept alive the hope that they would do their part in passing the reform. In reality, the only thing that House Speaker John Boehner did was kill time, dashing the hopes of millions of families to protect the image of his caucus. He even had the gall to try to divert the attention of his chamber’s most intolerant wing, which dominates the issue of immigration, by accusing the White House of not enforcing the laws…

Let there be no doubt: the Republicans are the ones who dealt the death blow to the reform.

Not all Republicans oppose the reform. On the contrary, their business and religious allies support the Senate’s bill. The problem is the internal Republican struggle against Tea Party populists who oppose it—and on this issue, they dominate the House’s majority caucus. They have a limited vision because of ignorance and ideological extremism.

Blocking immigration reform is a self-inflicted mistake that will eventually have an electoral price. Not necessarily because the Latino vote will turn to those who do not insult Hispanics, which has happened in this debate. But because the majority of Americans want to resolve the immigration issue, including legalization, and are tired of the hatred coming from the House of Representatives when it comes to immigration.

Greg Sargent, Washington Post: The GOP is now officially the party of ‘get the hell out’:

Exactly one year after the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that built a compromise on an exchange of increased enforcement for legalization for the 11 million, Republicans have now officially abandoned any pretense of a willingness to participate in solving the immigration crisis. Instead, they have committed the party to a course premised on two intertwined notions: There are no apparent circumstances under which they can accept legalization of the 11 million; and as a result, the only broad response to the crisis they can countenance is maximum deportations.

This means it’s now all in Obama’s hands to decide what he can do unilaterally to ease the pace of deportations and address the current unaccompanied migrant crisis…

The current crisis is actually an argument for comprehensive immigration reform. But Goodlatte — who once cried about the breakup of families — is now reduced to arguing that the crisis is the fault of Obama’s failure to enforce the law. Goodlatte’s demand (which is being echoed by other, dumber Republicans) that Obama stop de-prioritizing the deportation of the DREAMers really means: Deport more children. When journalist Jorge Ramos confronted Goodlatte directly on whether this is really what he wants, the Republican refused to answer directly. But the two main GOP positions — no legalization, plus opposition to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (relief for the DREAMers) — add up inescapably to “get the hell out” as the de facto GOP response to the broader crisis.

This is the course Republicans have chosen — they’ve opted to be the party of maximum deportations. Now Democrats and advocates willincrease the pressure on Obama to do something ambitious to ease deportations in any way he can. Whatever he does end up doing will almost certainly fall well short of what they want. But determining the true limits on what can be done to mitigate this crisis is now on him.

Fernando Espuelas, The Hill, “In killing immigration reform, Republicans ensure their own demise“:

A recent poll from the highly respected Latino Decisions firm shows that Republicans will be saddled with the blame for killing immigration reform — and Latinos will move further towards the Democrats.

Considering that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) crashed on the rocks of self-deportation, one would assume that Republicans would stop drinking the anti-immigrant Kool-Aid and seriously think about their future.

But no. While the warning signs flash red, ideology has trumped rational self-interest.

As Steve King and his pals celebrate the demise of immigration reform, a rising storm of deeply angry Latino voters threatens to sink the national Republican Party.

Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, “Immigration reform in Congress is dead. That’s really bad news for Republicans in 2016“:

For Republicans with an eye on winning back the White House in 2016 — and beyond — the news of the death of immigration reform lands with a dull thud.  If no legislation — whether a comprehensive approach or a more piece-meal one — moves between now and then, Republicans’ already-alarming issues with courting Hispanic voters will continue to make it difficult for the party to put together a winning national coalition…

Now, simply passing some sort of immigration reform legislation through Congress wouldn’t automatically solve the problems Republicans have with Latino voters. It wouldn’t come close. (Hispanic voters have been trending toward Democrats for the better part of the last two decades.)

But, what it likely would have done is a) make it much more difficult for Republicans to be attacked by Democrats as a party fundamentally unfriendly to Hispanic voters and b) allow the GOP presidential candidate (and other downballot candidates) to get beyond immigration to talk to Hispanic voters about other issues.  The belief is that if only Republicans could be seen as credible messengers to the Hispanic community, the party could show/convince those voters that on other issues — particularly social ones — the GOP is a natural home for them.

Making that case is significantly complicated not only by the fact that no sort of immigration reform package is likely to pass Congress but also because the blame for the lack of movement on the legislation rests squarely — for many Americans — on House Republicans. That is a giant problem for Republicans hoping to retake the White House in 2016. And, unless the party can find a way to win more than one in four Hispanic votes in future elections, the problem will be worse in 2020 than 2016 and even worse in 2024.

Put simply: In choosing not to pass any sort of immigration legislation, Republicans are whistling past a demographic graveyard.