What is John Boehner so afraid of?
Last week, the House Speaker was interrupted at breakfast by two teens who came to share their stories and ask how he would feel if he had to be separated from his family. He barely acknowledged them, before continuing on with a day in which he vowed that the House would never conference with the Senate bill on immigration.
Yesterday, hundreds of activists held a pre-dawn vigil outside the Speaker’s Washington, DC home, followed by a march on his Capitol Hill office. There was no response from the Speaker or his staff.
Today, a group of immigration advocates sought to deliver turkeys to Speaker Boehner and key members of House leadership, as a reminder of how hard immigrants work in America–and the response was more heavy-handed.
Boehner’s staff actually locked their doors, refusing to talk to the activists who came to the office, including two women who work at a Washington vineyard producing some of the Speaker’s prized merlot. This happened despite the fact that it is a daily occurrence for Congressional offices to be handed fact sheets, cookies, and other symbolic items; even Steve King’s office accepted his turkey and told the activists that their message would be delivered. (They did, however, make a point of filming the entire episode just in case the advocates did anything “illegal.”)
A member of the House GOP leadership went so far as to sic the Capitol Hill police on the advocates. We learned the police were sent in hot pursuit of the turkeys before the event even started. At one point, advocates were ushered into a room and told that they could not leave until they revealed how they had gotten the turkeys onto the Hill. Once the activists mentioned a lawyer, though, they were allowed to go.
Apparently, there is just something about the pro-immigration reform movement that is making House GOPers very nervous. Perhaps it’s the DREAMers, advocates, and allies who keep getting themselves arrested at Congressional offices demanding action on immigration reform. Perhaps it’s the ongoing hunger strike, or the funeral processions that have been held to remind Republicans that they are dead demographically if they don’t pass legislation. Maybe it’s the fact that GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy was recently called out of his home at 11 PM at night so that he and his wife could go meet with immigrant women who had been barricaded in his office without food, water, or medicine for more than six hours. Maybe it’s the fact that ICE offices across the country are finding it harder to deport people now that activists keep chaining themselves to departing buses.
Maybe they’re finally realizing that the pro-reform movement isn’t going away, and that they don’t know what tricks are still up our sleeves. If they’re this nervous about finding out, they should just take action already, and pass immigration reform.