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Observers See Through GOP Excuses for Immigration Inaction & Highlight Political Perils of Delay

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Following Speaker of the House John Boehner’s (R-OH) pessimistic assessment on immigration reform’s legislative prospects, a range of observers are now calling out the latest Republican excuses for inaction and are highlighting the political consequences of the GOP blocking reform.

Seeing Through Speaker Boehner’s Excuses: The Republican talking point that President Obama is not enforcing immigration laws is a complete falsehood – President Obama already is deporting immigrants in record numbers, with his 2 millionth deportation set to occur shortly, while resources devoted to border security and other enforcement measures are already in overdrive and at historic highs.  Noting these facts, a range of observers are seeing through this latest excuse for Republican inaction.  Salon’s Brian Beutler states, “This has all unfolded so plainly that no amount of buck passing will create any confusion about what’s actually happened and who’s responsible.”  The leading Spanish language daily, La Opinión, issued a blistering editorial taking apart the House Republicans’ excuse and their ongoing “immigration farce.”  In an editorial titled, “Mr. Boehner’s Weak Immigration Excuses,” the Washington Postwrites, the “suggestion that the president doesn’t or wouldn’t enforce immigration laws is transparently false…the speaker’s assertion is a smoke screen designed to obscure the fact that rank-and-file Republicans refuse to tackle immigration reform.” The Chicago Tribuneeditorializes, “Let’s be clear: If the House refuses to take up immigration reform this year, it’s not on Obama.  It’s on Boehner.”  And on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed delaying the implementation of immigration reform until 2017 and the next President – a development that CNN, The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, and Greg Sargent of The Washington Post each characterized as further calling the GOP’s bluff on distrust of Obama and his enforcement record.  The bottom line?  As Sargent writes, the legislative fate of immigration reform depends on “what sort of legalization proposal they [House Republicans] can accept, and on what conditions.  And this decision will be made entirely independently of anything Obama says or does.”

Political Consequences of Obstruction and Delay: Political analysts are unanimous in highlighting the potential electoral damage inflicted by waiting on immigration – most notably in GOP efforts to re-take the White House, but also for select 2014 races. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz assesses, “House Republicans’ latest revolt against immigration reform spells potential trouble for the party’s 2016 presidential candidates.  The last thing the GOP needs in 2016 is another primary season marked by debate and dissension over the fraught issue… Republicans continue to think more like a congressional party than a presidential part.”   John Feehery, a former House leadership aide and current Republican consultant, said, “If we don’t pass immigration reform this year, we will not win the White House back in 2016, 2020 or 2024.”  “The Fix” author Chris Cillizza agrees, writing in the Washington Post, “It’s hard to see Republicans winning a presidential election in the coming years without making inroads into the Hispanic community.  Beyond the devastating implications for Republicans re-taking the White House, other voices are highlighting that Republican obstruction on immigration could hurt the Party in 2014.  The Daily Beast’s David Freedlander writes that such obstruction may help with Democratic efforts to save the Senate, noting, “Democrats in D.C and on the ground in battleground states are wondering if they have a weapon to motivate their base voters—especially Latinos—during a typically low turnout midterm election cycle.”  And the San Jose Mercury News notes in an assessment titled, “GOP incumbents may be harmed by party abandoning immigration deal in D.C.,” that several California House Republicans with sizeable Latino voter constituencies, such as Rep. Jeff Denham, Rep. Gary Miller, and Rep. David Valadao, may be imperiled in 2014 if House Republicans block immigration reform.

It’s Now or Never: Observers are throwing cold water on the notion that Republicans can block reform in 2014 but take the issue back up in 2015. Chris Cillizza writes in the Washington Post, “The idea that it would be better — and more politically savvy — to wait until 2015 to tackle immigration reform overlooks one thing: By early 2015, the 2016 presidential race will already be underway… Anyone who thinks immigration reform is possible under those circumstances needs only to remember the 2012 presidential race.”  The Wall Street Journal editorializes that “the opponents will raise the same furor whenever it comes up, and Democrats will be less likely to compromise figuring they can use the issue to drive minority voter turnout in 2016.” And the Arizona Republic writes in an editorial, “The call to wait until after November’s elections is 100 percent pure stalling tactic.  The day after the election, the 2016 presidential campaign begins.  Immigration will become the issue Democrats use to clobber the GOP.  They will have no incentive to deal.  Now is the time.”