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Greg Sargent: Syria (And Other Excuses) Aren't Reasons for GOP Not to Pass Immigration Reform

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Since the Senate immigration bill passed earlier this year, House Republicans have been jumping on every possible excuse to avoid passing similar legislation–blaming President Obama, Democrats, the legislative calendar, and now an upcoming vote on Syria for why they haven’t yet taken action on immigration reform.  A post from Univision’s Jorge Ramos today shoots down that line of thinking–that any of these excuses are credible reasons for Republicans not to act.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post today also picked up the Ramos piece to again tell Republicans what we’ve all been saying for months: the House GOP needs to pass immigration reform.  Sooner is better than later.  None of the transparent, see-through BS they’ve been using as excuses for inaction will work.  If immigration reform dies/is killed, Latinos will blame the GOP.  And the Republican Party will suffer dramatic consequences as a result.

As Sargent wrote (emphasis ours):

As Ramos has previously noted, if immigration reform dies, the Hispanic media — and Latinos generally — will hold House Republicans, and House Republicans alone, responsible for it. Ramos’ message above is that if Republicans try to use Syria as an excuse for inaction, Latinos will see right through that, too.

The debate in Washington right now is heavily focused on whether Obama’s handling of Syria — in particular, Congress’ apparent rejection of his request for authorization — has badly weakened his ability to realize the rest of his agenda. Immigration reform, of course, is a major item on that agenda.

But when it comes to immigration — as with this fall’s fiscal fights — that question is largely irrelevant. Obama’s “standing” or “strength” with regard to Congress won’t play any significant role in determining whether immigration reform happens. That, too, is a question that turns only on whether Republicans resolve their differences over it.

Immigration reform’s fate, at bottom, rests solely on whether Republicans decide it needs to pass for the long term good of the party. Either they will decide killing reform is too risky, because it will lock in anti-GOP hostility among Latinos for a generation or more. Or they will decide passing reform won’t do enough to win over Latinos, given their disagreement with the GOP on other issues, and that the downsides of alienating the base aren’t worth the potential upsides. Neither the fact that Congress is distracted by Syria, nor Obama’s short term dip in popularity or standing or whatever you want to call it, will have anything whatsoever to do with that decision. Nor will Latino reaction to the GOP’s eventual decision. Does anyone imagine that if Republicans kill reform, Latinos will somehow see the Syria debate — or, even more ludicrously, Beltway-generated ideas about Obama’s “standing” — as mitigating factors?

When looked at through the prism of specific issues — such as immigration reform or the budget arguments to come — the notion that the Syria mess somehow diminishes the chances for key items on Obama’s agenda, or somehow changes the calculus for Republicans with regard to how to approach them, is plainly absurd on its face.

Read the full column here.