Speaker Boehner may supposedly want to pass immigration reform, but the Steve King caucus in the House, of course, does not. King and his right-wingers were given voice this week when 22 anti-immigrant Senators wrote a letter to President Obama claiming that any executive action on deportations would amount to abandonment of the law. Apparently, the GOP doesn’t want Obama to address deportations, or the fact that families are being separated. But neither are they willing to pass immigration reform that would answer these issues in a legislative way. By process of elimination, that only means one thing. As Greg Sargent at the Washington Post points out today, Republicans are still in favor of self-deportation and mass-deportation — the very positions that got them in trouble in the 2012 election. Read more below or at the Washington Post:
The only policy response we can support to address the 11 million is to deport as many people from the interior as possible, regardless of whether they are minor offenders with families and lives in the United States.
The position of many GOP lawmakers is that the proper response to our immigration crisis is to do everything possible to maximize interior removals – no matter who gets removed – so the threat of deportation remains for minor and major offenders alike. Do some Republican lawmakers say we should undertake reform that would confer legal status on many of the 11 million? Yes, they say that, and that constitutes a genuine break with the past. But virtually all the GOP Senators who signed today’s letter also voted against the Senate immigration bill (as did most of the Senate GOP caucus) that would have accomplished this. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders have not offered any formal proposals to confer legal status on the 11 million, and the House has voted against allowing Obama to exercise deportation discretion.
Therefore, the de facto GOP position of most GOP lawmakers on the 11 million is to do nothing other than urge Obama to stop deprioritizing some targets of deportation and remove more people from the interior, no matter who they are.
When Jeb Bush urged a morally nuanced view of the plight of law-breaking immigrants, he was also suggesting Republicans do the hard work of figuring outwhat terms and conditions it will take for them to accept integrating the 11 million into American society. But that isn’t happening. Instead, for all practical purposes, the Republican position remains that we should do as much as possible to get them all out of here.