In poll after poll, a clear majority of respondents have voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform. In light of these outcomes, one might have been surprised that the day before yesterday, Speaker John Boehner announced that any such legislation was very unlikely to make it through the House this year. How odd, because it was only late June of last year that the Senate passed just such a bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, with 14 Republicans lining up with all 54 Democrats in that chamber.
In an effort to deflect blame for the House’s failure, especially in an election year, Boehner sought to put the onus on the president, saying that many of his colleagues simply did not “trust” Obama to enforce any immigration bill they would pass. This rationale for INaction needs to be exposed to critical analysis.
First, it is well-known that the GOP is deeply divided over immigration reform. On the one hand, we have the Republican senators referred to above who voted for such a bill. In all likelihood, there are at last as many House Republicans who would vote the same way. On the other hand, you have a group of 40-50 Tea Party House Republicans who are adamantly opposed to reform of any type. Speaker Boehner is all too aware of this split and refuses to bring immigration to the floor for a vote, fearing that he cannot get it passed with a Republican majority. How best then to protect his obstructionist cohorts? Blame the president and “gin up” the “untrustworthy” rationale. Second, how would Obama prove his trustworthiness in enforcing immigration reform when the House refuses to pass the very legislation that he would be expected to enforce? The ILlogic and dishonesty here is stunning!!
Two other points reveal just how deceptive this latter tack is: Why did those 14 senate Republicans not express their own distrust of the president rather than voting for immigration reform? And, when it comes to enforcing existing immigration law pertaining to the deportation of illegals, Obama stands without equal; i.e. he has deported more of them that any president in memory. Simply put, an honest assessment shows that the president has behaved in a way that should have earned him trust, not caused it to be withheld.
Conservatives clinging to the “untrustworthy” meme will counter that Obama has lied (e.g. If you like your health insurance policy, you can keep it) and chosen not to enforce laws in other areas that are on the books. The prize example here was the president’s decision not to enforce bans on same-sex marriage because he believed that prohibition was UNconstitutional*. By extension then, he can’t be trusted with enforcement of immigration reform, even though he has done a good job of upholding existing statues.
There is little question that the assertion of untrustworthiness will find a rapt audience among the GOP’s grass roots supporters. Will other voters of a different political orientation have the same view? The answer to that question may well play out in this November’s election. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how it impacts Hispanics as they go to the polls.
As always, stay tuned.
* Turns out, the courts ruled that he was RIGHT!!!