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Republican Fall from Grace on Immigration is Complete

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Two Years Ago, GOP Lined Up for Reform; One Year Ago, House GOP Leadership Introduced Immigration Principles; This Week, GOP Voting on Harshest Anti-Immigrant Bills in Years

The Republican fall from grace on immigration is complete.

Two years ago, in the aftermath of the 2012 elections, Republicans lined up to support comprehensive immigration reform.  One year ago, House Republican leaders were set to introduce immigration principles to guide a comprehensive reform push.  Flash forward to the present day, and Republicans have turned their back on attempting to fix a broken immigration system and instead have completed a lurch to the anti-immigrant right.

This week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is advancing a collection of the harshest anti-immigrant legislation in years, seeking not only to overturn the sensible executive actions from last November, but also to end the DACA program for DREAMERS and maximize the deportation of all 11 million immigrants settled in America.  Alongside near universal assessment that the House GOP’s overreach has no chance of becoming law, several observers capture that this week’s actions will tie the Republican Party to a deportation-only policy agenda – which will have a profound effect on the GOP’s ongoing efforts to refashion its image to Latino voters ahead of the 2016 election cycle.

In analysis titled “Behold the Republican Immigration Strategy: Mass Deportation,” New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes notes:

The idea is to gut the president’s ability to use discretion in deciding whom to deport, and to restore the enforcement dragnet that Mr. Obama and the Homeland Security Department recently, and wisely, curtailed.

The G.O.P. is not just seeking to undo the executive actions Mr. Obama announced last November, for young immigrants known as Dreamers and many of their parents.  The party also wants to repeal earlier actions going back to 2012, protecting hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and the families of active-duty service members.

That is a lot of people to force back into the deportation line.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post captures that Republicans are now explicitly endorsing a policy approach that seeks to maximize deportations, writing:

[The Republican approach on display this week] will invite a debate not just about the legality and propriety of Obama’s executive actions, but about what our enforcement priorities should be when approaching what to do about the 11 million, given resources are limited to deporting a small fraction each year…

…For the longest time, Republicans blasted Obama for failing to ‘enforce the law.’  But when asked directly whether this meant the administration should deport more people from the interior, they tended to sidestep the question.  But advocating for the unraveling of the priorities in the Morton memo would appear to offer a very clear ‘Yes’ answer to that question.

And the nation’s largest Spanish language newspaper, La Opinión, writes in a new editorial that Republicans are engaged in a battle not with President Obama, but instead with millions of Latino and immigrant families:

The Republican majority’s project not only seeks to eliminate protection for millions of people with relatives in the United States.  It is also trying to revive every previously discarded measure to facilitate immediate, certain deportation…

…This kind of legislative extremism on immigration is always explained as a gesture to please the conservative base.  It’s much more than that. It is also an attack on the Latin and immigrant communities, whose repercussions are as specific as inhuman and painful.  It’s a gesture to be remembered at the voting polls.