Republicans moving backwards on immigration

GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, by all indications, really does want to see immigration reform happen. Perhaps he sees it as crucial to repairing the party’s Latino problem before the 2016 presidential race (which he may or may not enter). Or perhaps his reputed wonky side sees the status quo as untenable. Either way he does seem to want to get to Yes.

And despite what you’ve heard about GOP leaders killing reform for the year, Ryan insisted in an interview with a local Wisconsin newspaper that Republicans continue to debate the issue among themselves as we speak. But, he says, “we don’t have the votes right now.”

“The longer we delay, the worse these [immigration] problems become,” Ryan said, but congressional forces on the Right and the Left are holding things up.

“Right now, we’re working hard to find where that consensus lies,” he said.

If it’s true that House Republicans are still trying to find some kind of consensus solution on the 11 million that they can support — which is the necessary first step towards anything happening — that’s genuinely good news. But it’s obvious nothing is moving forward anytime soon. As Ryan suggests, there’s no consensus behind any solution to the problem Ryan himself says must be solved.

But don’t let it be said Republicans aren’t acting on immigration at all.

Today House Republicans are debating two measures that are partly related to immigration – but neither, of course, would do anything about the 11 million. Instead, both appear to be partly designed to prevent #Obummer from throwing open the borders, or pursuing amnesty, or whatever other scheme he’s hatching. (I propose “Obamnesty” as shorthand.)

One of the measures is called the “Faithful Execution of the Law Act,” and it would require all federal officials who implement policy to report to Congress on any reason for non-enforcement. The other is called the “ENFORCE the Law Act,” which would expedite lawsuits against the Executive Branch for failing to execute the laws. The release describing the two measures cites Obama’s willingness to flout immigration laws as a rationale.

With Obama under pressure to use executive authority to ease deportations, House Republicans don’t want Obama to move unilaterally on immigration. As today’s maneuvers show, they’ll act on their distrust of Obama. But they won’t allow Congress to act to solve the underlying immigration problem. Because they don’t trust Obama.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s GOP win in Florida’s 13th district — which is more evidence that Obamacare will deliver a glorious Republican triumph this fall, and that the current political dynamic must not be scrambled by any policy-making or problem-solving – makes any action on immigration less likely still. Even if Paul Ryan actually does want it.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.
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Greg Sargent | March 12