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Greg Sargent: Republicans Demand More Deportations

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The House GOP gave Steve King yet another vote against DREAMers today.  For those counting, this is the fourth such vote this session — and comes after the death of the ENLIST Act and after a whole year of inaction on immigration reform.

Let’s be clear — it’s Speaker Boehner and the House GOP who are allowing King to run the House on immigration.  They are throwing themselves off the demographic cliff — and either don’t believe it, or don’t care.  Boehner and his caucus may castigate Steve King for the way that he talks about immigrants, but they’re voting in lockstep with him.  The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent today once again explains that the GOP’s actual position on immigration is not so much different from Steve King’s.  Frankly, they want more deportations from the interior.  And that is bad news for immigration reform as well as the GOP’s future competitiveness with the Latino vote.

Read Greg Sargent’s full post here or an excerpt below:

“Deferred Action for Criminal Aliens”! That Steve King is so crazy! But is the overall GOP position really all that different? House Republicans passed Steve King’s 2013 measure to block Obama from using prosecutorial discretion to defer the deportation of DREAMers. Yes, the House GOP principles support legalization in principle for the 11 million, provided certain conditions are met. But House Republicans have not offered, or voted on, any proposal that would actually accomplish that, and it remains unclear if there are any circumstances under which they could support any practical legalization proposals in the real world.

Meanwhile, as today’s hearing demonstrated, the primary reason for the House GOP unwillingness to move forward on any legalization proposal of their own is that Obama can’t be trusted to enforce immigration laws. The specific critique advanced by Goodlatte and King was aimed at the Obama administration’s enforcement priorities. Both described any moves in the direction of deprioritizing the enforcement of low-level offenders as a general failure to enforce the law.

It’s true that the administration has deprioritized the enforcement of low-level offenders with lives here. It’s true that the administration may take further steps in that direction soon, though we don’t know how far they will go. But even as deportations from the interior have gone down, deportations from the border have gone up. The Republican position on immigration, as expressed here today, is that this is bad policy. Republicans are basically saying that deprioritizing removals from the interior, even for low-level offenders, and refocusing more resources on the border, is an unacceptable response to the immigration crisis, and that more removals of people with lives here are required to prove a general commitment to enforcing the law. In other words, Republicans won’t move forward with any kind of legalization for the 11 million because Obama isn’t deporting enough of them right now.

That’s a nonsensical position — Republicans have effectively boxed themselves into it — and in some ways, this actually makes Obama look bad, too. He is currently delaying unilateral action on deportations on the theory that giving House Republicans more space could allow them to move forward legislatively. House GOP leaders don’t haveto be constrained by this rhetorical straitjacket, but today’s events make it harder to imagine that they have any intention of slipping out of it. If Obama thought giving House Republicans space would cause them to look more kindly on his serial lawbreaking — thus making them more willing to move forward on their own — it looks like he was mistaken.