House Speaker Boehner’s message: Not gonna happen.
His reason: Because Republicans in the House delegation “don’t trust that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be.” In other words, it’s that untrustworthy Barack Obama’s fault the nation can’t repair its immigration system.
Is there a worse job in Washington than leading House Republicans? Probably not.
Did we mention Boehner’s no-go on immigration came just a week after he pledged to put immigration reform on the front-burner this year? It did, but by now Speaker Boehner’s backpedaling because of his coalition’s more extreme elements is nothing new. Such is the lot of anyone who would lead Tea Party-fueled Republicans who can’t tolerate any policy that looks like a “win” for Obama.
A handy set of facts might be useful for Boehner’s House majority in considering immigration reform:
• The United States desperately needs to bring an estimated 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows in a productive way that benefits the nation. Mass deportation is unworkable and expensive.
• After five years in office, the Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants — 2 milion — than the Bush administration did in eight years.
• The rapidly changing demographics of the nation mean that no political party can afford to appear hostile to the interests of Latinos.
A simple political lesson is at work here. Animus toward a single politician isn’t an organizing principle that can rally a majority of Americans, especially when that politician leaves office in less than three years. Senate Republicans who have supported comprehensive immigration reform realize this. Until his flip-flop, Boehner appeared to realize it, as well.
Our nation’s immigration challenges are bigger than Obama or Boehner or anyone else in Washington. Politicians and parties that put roadblocks along this path to reform will pay a price.