President Obama strongly advocates an immigration reform law, the Senate has passed one, and House Speaker John Boehner says he wants one. The law enforcement community, members of whom met with the president Tuesday, want reform, evangelical leaders have endorsed it, as have business leaders. So, what’s the holdup? House Repub-
licans who don’t like the president -- and the source of this information is Mr. Boehner himself.
Washington Republicans get prickly when accused of opposing measures -- including those like health care reform that they once supported -- because President Obama supports them. Mr. Boehner acknowledged this week that some members in his caucus won’t support any reform measures because they don’t trust the president. These ideologues also oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants even though there are not enough boxcars on the planet to deport the 12 million-plus illegal immigrants out of the country.
The GOP’s insistence on a crackdown on the flow of illegal immigrants first has been its long-standing excuse to not act on reform measures, but President Obama, whose policies have slowed illegal immigration across the Mexican border to a trickle, and who is far too aggressive about breaking up families to deport a few illegal immigrants, has deprived them of that excuse. They have nothing left but stubbornness and antipathy toward the president.
The business community, which supports reform because it needs the workers and because it is smart enough to realize that illegal immigrants who become citizens are eligible to be taxed, is becoming frantic for reasons both economic and political. Tom Donohue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, which doesn’t pretend to be a nonpartisan organization, declared recently that "If the Republicans don’t do it [pass an immigration reform law] they shouldn’t bother to run a [presidential] candidate in 2016." Anger with Republicans in the fast-growing Hispanic community was critical to President Obama’s re-election in 2012.
If House Republicans won’t support an immigration reform bill this session because it is the honorable, logical and economically wise thing to do, perhaps they will do it for pragmatic political reasons. If not, they are welcoming a reprise of the 2012 presidential race in 2016.