Feature

Immigration reform: The GOP’s dilemma

No sooner had Congress agreed to reopen the government than Obama was pivoting to his next priority—immigration reform.

The GOP brand is in tatters after the shutdown, said David Leopold in HuffingtonPost.com. But President Obama has given House Republicans a “clear way out of this mess”—an invitation to work on comprehensive immigration reform. No sooner had Congress agreed to reopen the government last week than Obama was pivoting to his next priority. “We should finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system,” he said. So why should the House GOP play ball? “It’s in their best interest.” Approving the bipartisan Senate immigration bill passed in June would do more than just keep our borders safe and give 11 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. It would also show the country that Republicans are serious about governing, are capable of compromise, and are not hostile to Hispanics. A majority of House members would vote for the Senate bill, said The Houston Chronicle in an editorial. Is it too much to hope that House Speaker John Boehner might defy his “rump group of ultraconservatives” and allow it to come up for a vote?

Yes, it is, said Ron Fournier in NationalJournal.com. Obama’s pivot to immigration is a nakedly partisan attempt to divide the GOP even further, and to reinforce his argument that the House Republicans are incapable of governing—and Republicans know it. It’s actually a “brilliant tactical move,” said Charles M. Blow in The New York Times. The president wants immigration reform as part of his legacy, but if Republicans stand firm against it, then Democrats will benefit from the votes of angered Hispanics in 2014 House and Senate elections. It’s a “win-win scenario for himself and the Democrats.”

That’s precisely why reform won’t happen—at least now, said Byron York in WashingtonExaminer.com.After the ugliness of the shutdown, the House GOP doesn’t trust Obama or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to negotiate in good faith. Besides, conservatives don’t want any bill that provides amnesty for people who crossed the border illegally. But while comprehensive immigration reform “appears to be dead,” it will remain a possibility in the long run. The legalization effort has the backing of pro-reform Democrats and moderate Republicans. Most importantly, it has “money, money, money,” courtesy of powerful business groups on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley. Legislation with “that much money and that much clout” behind it will never truly be dead.

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