For the past eighteen months, Speaker John Boehner has entrusted immigration policy to three of the most anti-immigrant voices in the GOP caucus:
Lamar Smith, Elton Gallegly and Steve King.
That trio has held one immigrant bashing hearing after another. Of course, all three of them — and Boehner — voted against the DREAM Act on the House floor in December of 2010.
So when Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) started making noise about introducing a DREAM-less version of the DREAM Act this year, Boehner shot down its chances in the House:
House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said “it would be difficult at best” to pass Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s version of the DREAM Act in Congress, lowering expectations for a policy proposal some have said could help the GOP make inroads with Latinos.
“There’s always hope,” Boehner told reporters, adding that he spoke with Rubio about the proposal and “found it of interest.”
“But the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment,” the GOP leader said. “And to deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.”
Ignoring that, yesterday Speaker Boehner had the audacity to blame President Obama for the lack of progress on immigration reform:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s policy change on immigration makes it less likely that Congress will be able to reach a bipartisan, final solution on the matter — a curious claim given that Boehner snuffed out that possibility months ago.
“It puts everyone in a difficult position,” Boehner said of Obama’s policy change, during a scrum with reporters. “I think we all have concerns for those who are caught in this trap, who through no fault of their own are here. But the president’s actions are going to make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get to a permanent solution.”
Hmmm. Who exactly is making it “difficult” to pass this type of legislation? President Obama? Or House Republicans like Rep. Steve King (IA)?
Not everyone is in a “difficult position” here. Certainly, the DREAMers who will benefit from this move are better off today than they were last Thursday. But Boehner is. Mitt Romney is. And according to Politico, so is the GOP:
Republicans are bobbing, ducking and weaving around President Barack Obama’s move to allow hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants to stay in the country, fearing a lose-lose proposition no matter how they weigh in on the policy shift.
Boehner sure is bobbing, ducking and weaving — and it’s really pathetic. What’s more, the GOP created this mess for themselves. As Ezra Klein pointed out this week, no so long ago, the DREAM Act was bipartisan:
In 2001, Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — better known as the DREAM Act — into the Senate. The legislation would’ve made it possible for the children of undocumented immigrants to gain permanent residency if they stayed out of trouble and went to school or joined the military. The idea was that we shouldn’t make kids pay for the migration decisions of their parents, and we shouldn’t deny our economy skilled workers we’ve already paid to educate or our military eager recruits who want to defend the country they’ve grown up in.
Hatch’s legislation quickly proved popular with his Republican colleagues. His initial cosponsors included Sens. Sam Brownback, Larry Craig, Mike DeWine, Chuck Grassley, and Richard Lugar. When Hatchreintroduced the bill in 2003, Sens. Lincoln Chaffee, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Mike Crapo, Peter Fitzgerald, Chuck Hagel, John McCain and Ben Nighthorse Campbell joined the list of co-sponsors. The legislation cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with ease: The final tally was 16-3, with seven of the 10 Republicans voting in favor.
If some of those GOP Senators who used to support DREAM voted for it in December of 2010, the bill would have passed and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But Republicans on Capitol Hill abandoned the DREAM and let the hard-core nativist wing of their party (led by personalities like Rep. Smith, Rep. King, Kris Kobach, Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio) take over.
Boehner has been reduced to blaming Obama for the failure to move DREAM, which has no basis in reality.
Last week’s move by President Obama created a crisis for the GOP of their own making. Politico’s Roger Simon called Obama’s action “downright brilliant.” Simon wrote:
So do a checklist on the new Obama policy:
Good for a limited number of hardworking, honest immigrants? Check.
Good for America because it will bring in more taxes? Check.
Good for America because it will increase security? Check.
Good for Obama politically? Check.
Good because it shows that a do-nothing Congress is a Congress that this nation can do without? Hooray!
No wonder Boehner has resorted to rewriting history.
Cross-posted at Daily Kos.