As Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC pointed out, even Mitt Romney supported legalization for military DREAMers. That means that the current House GOP, in refusing to consider Jeff Denham’s ENLIST Act as part of the defense authorization bill, is officially to the right of Romney — the DREAM Act-vetoing, SB 1070-supporting, self-deportation-pushing GOP nominee whose failure to connect with the Latino vote brought Republicans to their current predicament in the first place.
Let’s review: for the last year and a half since the 2012 election, Republicans have known that they must pass immigration reform even as they fail to find the political courage to actually do it. Their refusal to take action has contributed to advocates putting increased pressure on President Obama to address his record rate of deportations in order to protect those who would qualify for legislative immigration reform. Now that it looks like Obama will take action, Republicans are looking for immigration measures they can pass, in order to not get shut out of the game completely.
Enter Rep. Jeff Denham and his ENLIST Act, which would grant legal status to DREAMers who serve in the military. To emphasize: the Republicans were considering bill language that would only apply to young immigrants willing to serve and potentially die for their country. And, Denham is doing leading this effort because he gets the changing demographics.
The opposition is led, no surprise, by Steve King who threatened those who showed up to enlist that “we have a bus for you to Tijuana.”
As we’ve seen over and over, when it comes to immigration, Steve King is running the House Republican caucus. On Friday, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-CA) released a statement saying that he does not “intend to include the ‘ENLIST’ Act in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act that I will submit to the Armed Services Committee next month.”
And, that is likely that. A direct cause-and-effect chain links Mitt Romney’s 2012 failure to the consideration of the ENLIST Act. But by shooting it down, Republicans have once again proved that they have not learned from 2012, and in fact have become even more anti-immigrant since then. 2016 is right around the corner, and as of today they have nothing to show Latino voters. How many more presidential elections are they willing to lose?