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Commentators: House Vote Yesterday an Incredibly Shortsighted Move for GOP Brand

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Yesterday, the House GOP took their most anti-immigrant vote yet, amending a DHS funding bill to use as a weapon against executive action and DACA.  It’s the GOP’s first immigration move this session — and they’ve made it unequivocally in favor of mass deportation.  Here’s what commentators are saying today about the Republicans’ foolish move, and its consequences for 2016 and beyond.

The Hill covers a new CBS News poll finding that a majority of Americans want Congress to stop attacking the President’s executive action:

Some 55 percent of those surveyed in a recent CBS News poll say Congress should allow the president’s executive actions…Just four in 10 say lawmakers should move to overturn the actions.

That’s despite only 48 percent of Americans believing Obama acted within his authority as president — only slightly above the 46 percent who think he did not. But 62 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants who pass a background check and pay their taxes should be allowed to stay given certain requirements, providing the president political cover on his executive actions.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post highlights what yesterday’s vote means — if Republicans are opposed to DAPA/DACA and the principles of prosecutorial discretion undergirding the programs, then they must be in favor of (randomly chosen) mass deportations.  Republicans were supposed to re-brand their party image after 2012, but instead they’ve become even more conservative:

That would appear to mean Republicans think enforcement resources should be re-focused back on the deportation of low-level offenders — with jobs and community ties — from the interior. At least, it invites the question of whether that’s what Republicans think.

“Republicans just voted against a mainstream law enforcement utilization of prosecutorial discretion,” Frank Sharry of America’s Voice tells me. “Would they instruct enforcement agents to treat a DREAMer, the spouse of a soldier, or the mother of an American citizen as an equal deportation priority to a convicted gang member, a smuggler, or a serious criminal?”…

That may be good politics in most House Republican districts. But we’re now heading into another presidential race, and the House GOP position is arguably to the right of Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” stance.

Fernando Espuelas at Fox News Latino has a scathing column about the logic behind the House GOP leadership’s decision to hold yesterday’s vote.  The only way yesterday’s vote makes sense, Espuelas argues, is if Republicans are content to give up the Latino vote entirely:

The Congressional GOP’s unhealthy obsession with President Obama’s use of his presidential powers has driven them into a strategic black hole, with very high, long-term costs for the party and future candidates….

The party of “family values” expressed its will in the House that immigrant families be separated, homes broken up and communities devastated. The fact that some 70 percent of those people affected are Hispanic gives this action the added onus of targeting the fastest growing American ethnic group.

From a strategic standpoint, therefore, the GOP’s latest aggression against immigrants only makes sense if they have already abandoned all hope of winning the 2016 presidential election…

Boehner’s attempt to disguise this mass deportation vote as some sort of strike against Obama’s supposedly unlawful use of executive powers will not work. To the extent that Latinos need another reminder that the GOP is intrinsically antagonistic to Hispanics, this vote will be a permanent reminder that less than two weeks into the GOP’s control of Congress, the party united in favor of deporting the maximum number of people – including children…

At Bloomberg, Francis Wilkinson agrees that the GOP has clearly not rebranded the way it intended to after the last presidential election:

Today House Republicans voted for what might be called “comprehensive anti-immigration reform.”…

Nationally, the confirmation that Republicans are now the party of mass deportation will probably have a more profound and lasting effect. Indeed, it’s unclear how the party walks back such a stark position just before it leaps into a presidential election…

Less than two years ago, in March 2013, the Republican National Committee released its “Growth & Opportunity Project” report, which included discrete sections on reaching out to “Hispanics” and “Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.”

That was the past, and the past is another political party. The Tea Party — you know, the rabble rousers who were allegedly humbled and defeated by “establishment” Republicans in last year’s primary elections — has torched all that. The only question is how high the flames will rise by 2016. 

La Opinión reminds us that it’s a national security funding bill that Republicans are playing with:

National security is a top priority, except for the House of Representatives.

There, the almost 40 billion dollars to fund the federal agency amount to little less than a vehicle in their constitutional war with President Obama. It’s a weapon to stop what they call a presidential abuse of power with the use of executive action, especially involving immigration.

It’s ironic that, in practical terms, the congressmen’s action is weakening the country’s safety instead of strengthening it.

On the one hand, it’s endangering the funding of the federal agency for the purpose of scoring political points, knowing that the measure approved yesterday most likely won’t prosper at the Senate. The ultimate goal is to make Obama sign a law he won’t be able to refuse, and which would contain the elimination of protections from deportation.

On the other hand, they prefer that millions of people remain hidden in our society instead of bringing them out of the shadows and making known who they are and where they live. That will surely contribute to national security.

But the House seems too self-absorbed in its fight with President Obama to see beyond that. Immigration is one of those issues that cloud their common sense anyway. 

And Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post highlights the Republicans’ lack of a plan.  Even if the Senate passes the House bill (which they don’t have the votes to do), Obama will veto it.  Will Republicans really defund DHS to emphasize how much they hate immigrants?

So what is the plan, Senator? Oh, yes, pass the House bill. But when Republicans cannot get 60 votes for cloture, what then? Here is where it gets interesting — or potentially disastrous, depending on your view. Cruz is now part of the majority party, so the onus will be on Republicans to come up with an agreeable measure that still funds the Department of Homeland Security, unless Congress is willing to defund that department indefinitely. Moreover, suspending funding for border security would seem to undermine the complaint that there is not enough border security and we are at the mercy of smugglers and druglords. (No border security during a shutdown, or a skeletal crew deemed to be emergency staff, would be less than the current staffing allows.)

A GOP Senate staffer remarked, “I’d love to tell everyone we’re going to stop President Obama dead in his tracks, but unfortunately I just don’t see that happening right now. The truth of the matter is, at least at this time, there is no ‘Plan B.’ ” He is right. Democrats will inflexibly demand a clean funding bill, and there is currently no mood for a compromise among Republicans who vow to undo the executive order as a matter of constitutional propriety. After that? “There is a fear this ultimately plays out with us being forced to choose between passing a clean appropriations bill to fund DHS or shutting down DHS,” the staffer said. “And in light of the Paris attack, shutting down DHS is not a real politically appealing option.”

Here’s Vikram Singh at MSNBC on how Republicans should stop playing politics with national security:

This strategy of attacking the administration’s enforcement policies is mind-boggling—though not surprising, given the House’s inability last year to even consider the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill, which included the largest border security expansion ever—from members of the House who claim to be border and national security hawks. Put simply, the president’s actions on immigration will actually improve our nation’s security…

Republican leadership in Congress promised to get things done and to not shut down the government. Yet refusing to fund Homeland Security for a full year stymies or shutters important national security work and denies resources to the men and women sworn to protect Americans every day. All to try and stop an Obama policy reform that will actually make us safer…

Protecting the safety and security of the country and our citizens is the paramount responsibility of the federal government. Yet the agency charged with that duty is struggling for funding because the Republican Congress doesn’t like President Obama’s immigration strategy. If Congressional Republicans want to challenge Obama’s immigration policy, they should pass immigration reform instead of playing politics with national security. 

And Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos:

Immigration advocates and Dreamers took the vote as a personal attack on them and their families, because Republicans left them no choice.

“As 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls throw their names in the hat, House Republicans are taking steps to make their party’s job of winning the White House more difficult by voting to put millions of immigrants back on the road to deportation,” said Christina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream. “Do GOP leaders think that there won’t be a political price to pay for votes to deport millions of parents like mine?”

What a win for the Republican brand.