I read a good column from Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post which he spoke of immigration and why it’s dead for this Congress at least. It was published back on the 25th. Here it is:
President Obama gave a speech Monday in San Francisco calling on Congress to act on immigration reform! House Speaker John Boehner rejected the idea that immigration reform was dead at a press conference late last week! Momentum! Spark!
Eh, maybe not so much. Why? Because the underlying political realities in the vast majority of Republican-held congressional districts haven’t changed a bit.
A little bit of math produces some eye-opening numbers. Of the 234 Republicans elected to the 113th Congress, 174 of them — 74 percent — represent districts with non-white populations under 30 percent. Narrow that slightly and you find 112 members — 48 percent of GOP members in the House — who represent seats that have a non-white population of less than 20 percent. On the other end of that spectrum, just three House Republicans — 1.2 percent — hold seats where the non-white population is 70 percent or higher.
What those numbers make plain is that for the overwhelming majority of the Republican House majority voting in favor of any sort of broad (or even narrow) scale immigration reform proposal isn’t good politics. At best, reforming immigration is not a top-of-the-mind priority for constituents in most of these districts. At worst, there is opposition to adopting changes that many people believe amounts to amnesty for the 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S..
Obama said Monday that he has told Boehner not to “let a minority of folks block something that the country desperately needs.” Of course, as these numbers make clear, it’s not a minority but a strong majority of House Republicans who lack any real political incentive to make changes to the immigration laws on the books.
Yes, but, what about the good of the party some will ask. It is unquestionably true that if future Republican presidential nominees cannot win more — a LOT more — than the 27 percent of the Hispanic vote that Mitt Romney took in the 2012 election, it will become increasingly difficult for the party to win a national majority. But, all but a handful — Paul Ryan, we are looking at you — of Republicans in the House have no national ambitions and instead are focused entirely on ensuring they do everything they can to be re-elected in 2014 and beyond. Asking rank and file Members of the House to act on the supposed “greater good” of the party when that vote could endanger them in their own primaries come 2014 is essentially a non-starter.
All of which serves as a reminder of the Republican conundrum on immigration. The party badly needs to re-make its image in the Hispanic community to broaden (or at least create the possibility of broadening) its electoral map in 2016 and beyond. But, its Washington wing — particularly in the House — see no incentive to do much of anything on immigration. And the Republican base — you know, the people who tend to vote in presidential caucuses and primaries — are the strongest opponents of changing current law on immigration. Given those contradictions, doing nothing remains the most likely outcome.
Now since then, Boehner has made moves that suggests that immigration is still priority and will be taken up next year. This is where the bull$hit talk comes in. Where politicians say they’re committed to doing a particular goal or priority, but end up shoving it or kicking the can down road due to political unpopularity or major change in priorities. Remember Obama said he was focused on jobs? Remember the talk of reforming entitlements and cutting spending? Yeah, not a good track record.
Let’s forget one thing obvious – OBAMACARE! This is an issue which is affecting millions of Americans and has taken Obama’s job approval numbers into the 30s for the first time in RCP polling. Now the leadership does undoubtedly want to advance immigration legislation to satisfy the consultants and Chamber of Commerce. They’ll make (futile) attempts to advance legislation, but they back off after some voiced outrage from the caucus and party base. The ball will be moved back to Obamacare and will remain so throughout 2014 and beyond (until this rotten law is repealed or struck down). Now what happens with immigration in the future is an open ended which anyone could make their own analogy too, but I’m only discussing the issue in this current Congress.
Immigration (or amnesty) is ultimately dead for this Congress. (Note: I can’t post comments.)
Update: To those in the comments who proclaim ‘DOOM!’, I’m sick as hell seeing that stupid attitude and ask you to try espouse more optimism.