Political Animal

Blog

January 29, 2014 3:55 PM Time’s Up on Immigration Reform

By Ed Kilgore

I fully understand the extraordinary patience that immigration reform proponents have shown with John Boehner in particular and the House GOP in general up until now. After all, you have to go with the House of Representative you have, not the one you want, and it’s not like 2014 is shaping up as a game-changing election in terms of the leadership and composition of that chamber. But the process of waiting for them to find the perfect moment, the perfect legislative vehicle, the perfect “cover,” the perfect distractions, to take action—preferably non-toxic action—on the subject is beginning to look like a scene from Waiting For Godot.

Today at The Hill, Univision talk show host Fernando Espuelas sent a very blunt message to the Speaker: Time’s up!

Tick, tock, the clock has run out on John Boehner and his GOP cohort to present a credible immigration reform plan to the nation. And that doesn’t mean just any set of “principles,” but a coherent, comprehensive bill that will pass the House, reconcile with the Senate’s bill and win the president’s signature.
The face of the clock is clearly saying failure is not an option for the Republican Party.
While conservative pooh-bahs are discouraging Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) from action, saying that immigration reform will damage the GOP, the view from outside the right-wing bubble is quite different. Boehner undoubtedly gets it, but many Republicans on the Hill and their enablers in the media, especially Tea Partyers who are rabidly opposed to reform, continue to live trapped in a time capsule somewhere in the past when Cokes sold for a nickel, new Chevys for $800 bucks and minorities could not vote.
Invisible to these time travelers is the daily damage that Republicans are suffering as American Latino voters — the fastest growing part of the electorate and the margin of victory or defeat in several big states — are increasingly disgusted with the GOP’s immigration blockade.
The reality is now upon us: Since President Bush’s immigration reform was killed by his own Republican Party in 2007 and the latest GOP presidential candidate ran on a political suicide strategy of “self-deportation,” Hispanics in this country see Republicans as the immovable object that must be dislodged from power.

Espuelas goes on to raise the awful specter of Pete Wilson, the California governor who unwittingly condemned his state party to a demographic hole in which they are still trapped in his zeal to exploit a spasm of anti-immigrant sentiment in 1994. The point is that for many Latinos, Republicans are dealing with a rebuttable presumption that they care more about pandering to nativist sentiment than to fixing the immigration problem. The burden is on Boehner, the business community, and the entire Republican Establishment to show otherwise, and every day they squander with vague promises and retrograde proposals it becomes heavier. Reform proposals are not in the mood to hear once again that progress is impossible until after the current election cycle. That translates as maƱana, and as California Republicans can tell you, that’s not soon enough.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus