FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Congressional leaders: Comprehensive immigration reform is dead
If true, it is certainly good news. Congressional leaders of both parties are telling the Washington Post that comprehensive immigration reform is dead for the foreseeable future:
The two-year attempt to push immigration reform through Congress is effectively dead and unlikely to be revived until after President Obama leaves office, numerous lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the issue said this week.
The slow collapse of hopes for new border legislation — which has unraveled in recent months amid persistent opposition from House Republicans — marks the end of an effort that both Democrats and Republicans have characterized as central to the future of their parties. The failure leaves some 12 million illegal immigrants in continuing limbo over their status and is certain to increase political pressure on Obama from the left to act on his own.
Some of the most vocal proponents of a legislative overhaul now say they have surrendered any last hopes that Democrats and Republicans can reach a deal. The realization marks a low point for advocates who mounted the first serious immigration push since 2007, when a bipartisan effort under then-president George W. Bush was defeated in the Senate.
As we’ve discussed many times here (for instance, here here here), while it is possible to both agree with the propositions that our current immigration system does not serve the nation well AND that it needs a substantial overhaul and still be opposed to the travesty the US Senate has tried to foist off on us.
Two recent developments, however, appear to have doomed whatever slim chances remained, advocates and lawmakers said. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary election this month to a tea party challenger who ran on a strong anti-immigration platform. In addition, a new crisis erupted on the Mexican border, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children apprehended crossing the border illegally into Texas over the past several months.
I think this is only a partially correct reading of the situation. While I do believe the flood of minors from Central America was an act that the Obama administration tried to use as a cudgel to move the broadbased amnesty program favored by the Senate forward, I think the House had decided the GOP electorate was in no mood to address immigration. Only a few days before he lost his primary, Eric Cantor said immigration was not on the agenda for the remainder of the summer.
Though it may be dead for the time being, this beast could star on Walking Dead (or in a Monty Python sketch). So long as the US Chamber of Commerce wants a source of cheap labor and the Democrats want captive voters comprehensive immigration reform will never be really dead. If you need proof, yesterday John McCain and Chuck Schumer were the headliners at the Wall Street Journal’s Capitol Journal Breakfast.
But at a breakfast Wednesday hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — two of the architects of the Senate immigration bill — acknowledged that the chances of House legislation were exceedingly slim.
“I can’t tell you we have a great shot at it,” McCain said. “But I know the consequences of failure.”
And Chuck Schumer said it was vital for the GOP if they wanted to win elections. And we know how much he wants Republicans to win.