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Speaker Boehner’s Choice – Immigration Reform He Wants & Needs or Driving the GOP Off Demographic Cliff

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Right now, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) is meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to talk about immigration reform.  Immediately following the 2012 elections, Speaker Boehner said to ABC News “This [immigration] issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

While some House Republicans agree, the anti-immigrant wing of Speaker Boehner’s Republican caucus is not letting go without a fight.  It’s clear the Speaker has to make a choice: either continue to embolden the anti-immigrant crazies in his caucus, like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), or exercise leadership and help deliver the reform he knows our nation and his Party needs.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders know that there is a tough but fair way forward on immigration reform that adds to the tax base, strengthens the economy, and gets the issue of immigration off the table.  With their abysmal showing among Latinos in the last election, it is suicidal politics to let the Steve King wing continue to drive and define the GOP.  There is a path forward in the House but it requires the adults in the GOP to work with Democrats and modernizers and do the right thing for the country, which is also the right thing for their party.

Among the ongoing anti-reform developments occurring under Speaker Boehner’s leadership include: the House Judiciary Committee is this week moving forward on several bills that are a disturbing homage to the worst immigration policy approaches of recent years.  Meanwhile, today, anti-immigrant zealot Rep. Steve King embarked on a six-hour press conference to rail against immigration reform (note to Rep. King: your claim today that pro-reform arguments “are not based on any empirical data” is probably not the best argument to make mere hours after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that the Senate bill would both bolster the economy and shrink the deficit).  And two weeks ago, the House passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. King to defund the successful and popular DREAMer deferred action program and threaten DREAMers with deportation.

As National Journal captured in an article titled, “The GOP’s Steve King Problem,” the anti-immigrant wing of the GOP is causing political headaches for those who care about the long-term national viability of the Republican Party: the “Iowa congressman’s outspoken conservatism embodies the kind of politics that, in the RNC’s own words, alienates minorities, young voters, and moderates, the very people the GOP desperately needs to bring under its tent.  That immigration reform brings out King’s most incendiary rhetoric is especially troublesome, because regaining popularity among Hispanic voters is the party’s biggest priority heading into 2016.”

Thankfully, Speaker Boehner does have an option to side with the bi-partisan majority of the House that wants immigration reform and is prepared to vote on reform’s behalf.  As New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes captures in a new column:

No matter the Tea Party zealots will tell you, it is possible to pass a bill that includes the smartest and soundest immigration policy, that solves the Republican Party’s broken relations with Latinos, that secures the border and that gives the country the 21st-century immigration system it needs.  Such a bill could pass – there are enough Republicans and Democrats to send it straight through both houses and onto Mr. Obama’s desk.  But it would need the help of that thing – what do you call it?  Majority rule.  Democracy.  An up-or-down vote.