Is the GOP really going to pass immigration reform?
It is perplexing to watch the Republican leadership falling all over themselves trying to come up with an immigration reform plan that won't look like they've totally caved to the Democrats.
But the ultimate question has to be "why?" Just because the Chamber of Commerce and a few other business groups are leanung on the GOP to get something done on immigration reform doesn't mean they should jump throught those hoops. The issue is far down the list of priorities according to the polls, where job creation is the #1 concern.
Reihan Salam is asking the same question:
One of the most curious political developments in recent memory is House Speaker John Boehner's decision to press for a new Republican immigration bill before addressing America's bona fide jobs crisis. Immigration reform is important. Many conservatives are convinced that unless the GOP deals with the challenges facing unauthorized immigrants who have been living and working in the country for years, it will never build trust with voters with strong ties to immigrant communities. This is no small thing in a country in which 13 percent of the population is foreign-born and another 11 percent of the population has at least one foreign-born parent.
But it's not at all clear that passing an immigration bill will suddenly lead immigrant voters and their children to flock to the GOP, not least because it is all but guaranteed that Democrats will attack the GOP for not going far enough. If Republicans offer unauthorized immigrants legal status without citizenship, Democrats will accuse them of creating millions of second-class non-citizens. And if, as seems likely, Boehner's immigration push will lead to a substantial increase in less-skilled immigration, it will divide the right, and for good reason.
If Republicans want to build trust with voters - foreign-born and otherwise - they ought to instead pass a serious jobs bill. In his State of the Union address, President Obama made it clear that he will use raising the federal minimum wage as a wedge issue to put GOP lawmakers on the back foot, and there is at least some reason to believe that he will succeed. A Gallup survey from late last year found that 58 percent of Republicans favored a substantial minimum wage hike, a fact that has greatly complicated conservative efforts to beat back a policy they fear will dampen future job growth. The perfect populist issue has fallen into the president's lap, and a GOP immigration reform push will do nothing to dull its effectiveness.
The Republicans had an acceptable immigration reform plan - modest, limited in scope, and it dealt with pressing issues like border security and visa reform. No amnesty. No "path to legalization." Boehner probably could have gotten something that limited through the House.
Now, Boehner has embraced the "comprehensive" baloney beloved orf Democrats. An immigration reform bill that is likely to increase illegal border crossings is no reform at all. Meanwhile, we are suffering from a lack of good jobs that is putting the Middle Class even farther behind.
If the bill passes, it won't be with a lot of rank and file GOP votes. This means almost all of the Democrats are going to have to vote for it, making it possible for them to claim authorship - thus defeating whatever purpose Boehner had in taking up the issue in the first place.
Democrats are loving this. As the Tea Party sharpens the long knives and prepares to primary even more incumbents, Democrats are dancing a jig in celebration. Even if defeated, the bill is splitting the Republican party during a year that should have been very favorable to them.
That can only mean good news for Democrats as they look to gain House seats and keep the Seante.