To Date, Boehner and House Leadership All Hat, No Cattle on Immigration Reform
According to a report from Laura Meckler in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) recently told a Las Vegas audience of industry donors that when it comes to immigration reform legislation, he is “hellbent on getting this done this year.”
What happened next was all too predictable: the anti-immigrant crowd sounded the alarm and Speaker Boehner’s office backed away from the comments, with his spokesperson saying, “Nothing has changed. As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Speaker Boehner and other supposedly pro-reform Republicans seem more ‘hellbent’ on placating hardliners than on delivering immigration reform. Despite his continued insistence that he wants to get reform done, Boehner’s actions speak a lot louder than his words. He has refused to provide a vote on reform that offers dignity to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in and contributing to America, but he has given the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP multiple votes. He talks a good game, but when pressed on House inaction, he traffics in weak excuses and circular logic.
In an interview with the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent last week, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) predicted that President Obama will take executive action on deportations this summer if House Republicans continue to block immigration reform. Rep. Diaz-Balart also dismissed the possibility of Republicans moving immigration legislation in 2015 because of the politics of the Presidential primaries. As Sargent concluded, “If Republicans don’t act on reform by August, they may lose their chance to place their stamp on reform — and begin to repair their Latino problem — before the next presidential election.”
It’s now or never for the GOP. If Boehner is truly motivated by potential political blowback, the consequences of continued inaction are becoming clearer by the day. If the House doesn’t act soon, the President will. If the House blocks reform this year, legislation won’t be seriously revisited until after the 2016 election. And if the House fails to get on the right side of immigration reform, Republicans will head into the 2016 election permanently branded as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino.