This week, House Republicans are scheduled to summit in Cambridge, Maryland, and possibly put out a statement of principles on immigration reform. Considering that a majority of the country already supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the House Republicans are way behind, and taking baby steps — but some in the Tea Party crowd are actually encouraging them to do even less.
In the past few days, we’ve seen Sen. Jeff Sessions, Bill Kristol and Mark Krikorian advising the GOP to stay away from immigration reform altogether this year. Sessions claimed that reform would hurt the US economy (not true), Krikorian wanted to secure the border first (we already secure it to the tune of $18 billion every year), and Kristol and Joe Scarborough were on Morning Joe yesterday arguing that it would be counterproductive for the GOP to take up immigration reform during an election year.
But here’s the thing: the GOP has good reasons to be very wary of every one of these snake-oil salesmen, not the least of which is the fact that they are all supporting a status quo which has been a failure for Republicans in the past. Remember 2012, Mitt Romney, and self-deportation? The GOP is kidding itself if it thinks that problem is going to go away without it taking action on immigration reform. As Sen. John Cornyn said, Republicans “can win in 2014 without resolving [immigration]. We can’t win in 2016 without resolving it.”
But back to the spokesmen. Why would the GOP want to take advice from Mark Krikorian, who advocated the concept of self-deportation to Mitt Romney, thereby directly lending a hand to the GOP’s disastrous 2012 defeat? Romney eventually realized what a mistake self-deportation was, but Mark Krikorian was still talking about attrition through enforcement as of yesterday* — that’s self-deportation!
We wrote about Jeff Sessions yesterday, who really should win some kind of award for his hypocrisy on immigration. Sessions constantly rants about the supposed “special interests” pushing for immigration reform — but during the Senate debate, he himself hired one such special interest, Janice Kephart of Mark Krikorian’s Center for Immigration Studies. And he’s repeatedly published pieces claiming that immigration reform will hurt American workers — but in every other context, Sessions votes against the middle class. As Ezra Klein once noted, Sessions “just wants to kill immigration reform. It’s almost as if his opposition to the bill isn’t really about poor Americans at all.”
Bill Kristol? It’s a wonder that anyone allows him to continue pontificating. Kristol is famous for his political “predictions” — such as how Hillary Clinton would triumph in 2008 and Obama wouldn’t beat her in a single primary or caucus, or how a war in Iraq would have “terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East.” He’s the guy who once called Sarah Palin his “heartthrob.” By all appearances, Kristol remains part of the punditocracy as a guide to things that won’t happen.
Here’s the thing: the politics of immigration have changed dramatically in recent years. You’d think by now the Republicans would have grasped that. Taking action on immigration this year is not taboo — it’s expected. Contrary to what Sessions, Kristol, Krikorian, et al seem to think, it’s inaction on immigration reform that will doom the GOP, in 2016 and beyond.
*Krikorian in National Review yesterday: “I outline in the current issue of NR an approach that would be both sound policy and good politics: Lay out the specific enforcement objectives that are required, which would be primarily focused on preventing new illegal settlement…And while the achievement of those enforcement objectives would result in some attrition of the illegal population, plenty would remain…”