Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Knuckle-dragging Republicans in the US House of Representatives have said that they will NOT– that is NOT with capital letters– pass an immigration “reform” bill that includes a path to citizenship for 12 million immigrants living in the US.
After all, the Republican Party’s corporate masters are making big bucks exploiting and imprisoning undocumented workers; I guess their motto is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For big business, immigration ain’t broke (except that they would like easier access to cheap, skilled labor from India).
The US Senate’s much-celebrated bill did have a path to citizen (plus lots of other stuff the Democrats agreed to in order to get a handful of Republicans to vote for it.)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t like the US Senate’s version of Immigration Reform for multiple reasons: 1) a 13-year path to citizenship during which immigrants are denied healthcare and other social safety net programs– and God knows what else– is cruel and designed to keep immigrants living in poverty; 2) Senator Orin Hatch’s plan to hound immigrants for back taxes– while letting multinational corporations pay NOTHING– is mean-spirited and, again, designed to keep immigrants scared and poor; 3) spending $30-40 billion on militarization of the border is a waste of money and an unnecessary gift to the military industrial complex; 4) allowing multinational corporations to import skilled workers but pay them what they earned “back home” is unfair to those workers and would drag down wages for American skilled workers; 5) setting further restrictions on newer immigrants is unfair. (Doesn’t the Congress realize that when Baby Boomers like me retire, the US will have a shortage of workers? Oh, I forgot, they’re hoping to raise the retirement age to keep us working longer.)
That said– although highly flawed– it was something. The Senate bill helped the Dreamers, it offered the undocumented a path to a normal life in the US and eventually full citizenship, and the AFL-CIO okay’d the worker-related negotiations.
From the day the Senate bill passed, Speaker of the House John Boehner said it would be dead on arrival in the House. In fact, to show you how far apart these two governing bodies are, during the Senate debates on immigration, the House was discussing crazy shit like the S.A.F.E. Act (HR2278, dubbed nationwide SB1070) to further crack down on brown people.
Where are Boehner and the House on immigration? Check out this story from Talking Points Memo…
The already narrow path to enacting comprehensive immigration reform pretty much disappeared in the past 24 hours.
At the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner stated a specific policy preference Tuesday that will alienate the entire Democratic Party if he adheres to it, and thus doom the reform effort. And elsewhere in the Beltway, influential conservatives have grown more confident and explicit about abandoning the immigration issue, for at least a couple of years.
Taken together, it means that enacting new immigration legislation will either require Democrats to cave on a key demand, or require Boehner to abandon his preference and break his word to his conference that he won’t move ahead without a majority of his members in support.
“It’s clear from everything that I’ve seen and read over the last couple of weeks that the American people expect that we’ll have strong border security in place before we begin the process of legalizing and fixing our legal immigration system,” Boehner said outside the Capitol Monday afternoon.
His spokesman Michael Steel explains that the statement is consistent with Boehner’s “long-standing emphasis on border security.”
But it amounts to a de facto endorsement of the conservative view that any steps to legalize existing immigrants should be contingent upon implementation of draconian border policies. As is Boehner’s custom, it also eschews the word “citizenship,” suggesting that even if Democrats agree to a trigger, he won’t guarantee that it would be aimed at a full amnesty program, and, thus, eventual voting rights for immigrants already in the U.S.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called this policy formulation a “poison pill.”
But if conservatives get their way, we’ll never even reach the point at which Boehner or Democrats will face pressure to cave.[Emphasis added.]
In recent weeks, high-profile conservative pundits have called upon the Republican Party to back away from immigration reform all together. Again, from Talking Points Memo…
In an op-ed for the conservative National Review, Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry called on House Republicans to “kill the bill,” and to face the electorate one or two more times at least with the same problems they’ve had with minority voters the past two presidential elections.
“If Republicans take the Senate and hold the House in 2014, they will be in a much better position to pass a sensible immigration bill,” they write. “At the presidential level in 2016, it would be better if Republicans won more Hispanic voters than they have in the past — but it’s most important that the party perform better among working-class and younger voters concerned about economic opportunity and upward mobility.”
Kristol and Lowry even advise Republicans not to get dragged into a protracted negotiation with the Senate over comprehensive reform. Just drop the issue altogether.
“House Republicans should make sure not to allow a conference with the Senate bill,” they wrote. “House Republicans can’t find any true common ground with that legislation. Passing any version of the Gang of Eight’s bill would be worse public policy than passing nothing. House Republicans can do the country a service by putting a stake through its heart.” [Emphasis added.]
What happened to the kinder, gentler GOP that– at least for a few short weeks– thought it should be nicer to Latinos so maybe a few of them will vote Republican in 2014 and 2016. In February, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor gave an outline of the new GOP. From the Washington Examiner…
Cantor announced that House Republicans would begin pushing proposals dealing with education, health care, immigration and job growth, including student aid that would make college more affordable, flexible employment schedules in the private sector and job training for a changing workforce.
So much for that. On Rachel Maddow’s blog today, Steve Benen called the Republican rebranding an epic failure.
And four months after its unveiling, the RNC’s “rebranding” campaign hasn’t just died a natural death; it has suffered a Rasputin-like fate, having been stabbed, poisoned, beaten, shot, and drowned.
Consider some of the headlines from the last few weeks: Republicans intend to kill immigration reform; intensify their war against reproductive rights, and vote for the 38th time to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
Prominent party officials are dealing with controversies related to racism and rape rhetoric, while the party becomes increasingly invested in the idea that it can thrive by focusing almost exclusively on white voters.
Sweeping efforts intended to block Americans’ voting rights are unfolding at a breakneck pace.
Meet the new Republican Party; it looks an awful lot like the old Republican Party. Rebranding isn’t a failure; it’s a punch-line to an unfortunate joke. [Emphasis added.]
So, has the GOP given up on reaching out to Latinos and resigned itself to being the white man’s party?