Opinion writer

On Friday, House Republicans passed measures to address the border crisis that gutted protections for immigrants brought to this country illegally as children. This made it official: The border crisis has pushed the true GOP position on immigration out into the open, confirming Republicans have become the party of maximum deportations. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board has now echoed this idea, castigating “Deportation Republicans.”

To understand the possible long term implications of this, note that two Republicans who have explicitly used this debate to raise their profiles — Ted Cruz and Rick Perry — also may well run for president next year.

On CNN’s State of the Union yesterday, Perry claimed the big story here is that Obama has failed to secure the border, repeating wildly inflated claims about illegal immigrants being responsible for thousands of homicides, and asserting that “some of them are from countries that have substantial terrorist ties.” And he appeared to link Obama’s coming executive action to ease deportations to suggestions of a border in chaos, claiming: “American citizens expect Washington to respect the Constitution and secure the border.” Meanwhile, Ted Cruz’s role in pressuring House Republicans to vote to deport all the DREAMers has already been documented.

It seems possible, then, that the House GOP’s lurch to the right on immigration is only a prelude for worse to come in the coming GOP presidential primary.

Earlier this year, when immigration reform was on life-support and Republicans began to suggest they could always do reform next year, it was already obvious Ted Cruz was gearing up to seize on any such efforts to demagogue the issue once the presidential primary got underway. But now Obama’s coming action on deportations will introduce another element of #Obummer Lawlessness into the mix, ratcheting up the explosiveness factor among GOP primary voters.

It’s not hard to envision the GOP primary candidates all pledging to roll back Obama’s action, which could end up being the functional equivalent of pledging to deport millions of people. Indeed, the GOP strategy of explicitly linking hyped claims of a border in chaos with Obama permissiveness on deportations from the interior all but locks Republicans into that position.

Mitt Romney adopted a “self deportation” position during the 2012 GOP primary, which helped produce a round of post-election soul searching about the party’s historic losses among Latinos and the need to recast the GOP as more inclusive and welcoming. We’re now on track to see Republican presidential candidates move to the right of “self deportation.”

To be clear, none of this will matter much in 2014, because Latinos are not a big factor in the key Senate and House contests. But the point is that Republicans could win big this year in spite of failing to recast the party as more in line with the country’s demographic and cultural evolution in time for the next presidential race. Indeed, the GOP base’s preoccupations on immigration and #Obummer Lawlessness — and the importance of the base to this fall’s elections — are incentives against them doing that.


* DEMS LAUNCH FRESH ATTACK IN NORTH CAROLINA: Forward North Carolina releases a new Web video recapping the hard right turn the state legislature has taken under state House Speaker Thom Tilllis. It juxtaposes his conservative priorities (deep education cuts; tax cuts for the wealthy) with his now-infamous “divide and conquer” quote.

Once the legislative session ends, you’ll see the final phase of the race between Dem Senator Kay Hagan and Tillis begin in earnest, and this is the template for the massive onslaught against him that’s to come.

* HOUSE PANEL FINDS NO BENGHAZI WRONGDOING: Good to see that this has finally been cleared up:

The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack on the U.S Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, said Rep. Mike Thompson of St. Helena, the second-ranking Democrat on the committee.

According to Thompson, the report found no “stand down” order was issued, and that the supposedly scandalous talking points actually did mirror what intel agencies thought at the time. We now await the report’s declassification.

* CAN DEMS TURN THINGS AROUND IN MIDTERMS? E.J. Dionne has a good piece noting that GOP-orchestrated gridlock actually is more harmful to Democrats than Republicans, but things have grown so extreme on immigration that perhaps the dynamic might shift:

On balance, Washington gridlock has hurt Democrats more than Republicans by dispiriting moderate and progressive constituencies that had hoped Obama could usher in an era of reform. The key to the election will be whether Democrats can persuade these voters that the radical right is the real culprit in their disappointment — and get them to act accordingly on Election Day.

* OBAMA’S OTHER SUCCESS — WALL STREET REFORM: Obamacare foes refuse to acknowledge the existence of evidence showing the law is working. Paul Krugman’s column details THAT the same thing is happening with Wall Street reform, yet in this case, Wall Street’s reaction to the law tells us all we need to know:

Did reform go far enough? No. In particular, while banks are being forced to hold more capital, a key force for stability, they really should be holding much more. But Wall Street and its allies wouldn’t be screaming so loudly, and spending so much money in an effort to gut the law, if it weren’t an important step in the right direction.

* WHITE HOUSE PLEDGES TO ACT ALONE: Also over the weekend, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said Congress’ punt left Obama no choice but to act alone, but also noted that Obama has not yet been advised as to what he can legally accomplish. At this rate, we probably won’t know what he’s going to do until late August at the earliest.

* AND CONSERVATIVES DECRY MORE OBUMMER LAWLESSNESS: Brian Beutler has a good piece documenting that conservatives are already decrying Obama’s coming action on deportations as an outbreak of lawlessness and a threat to the republic, even without having seen what he is proposing:

The right has staked so much on the premise that Obama is exceeding his executive authority on a regular basis that fallacious appeals to the legal high ground are becoming commonplace….This tendency to assume the legal high ground follows naturally from a political strategy of playing up unilateral executive actions as evidence of presidential lawlessness…outside the right, it’s best to view their efforts as sophisticated attempts to work the refs rather than as judicious and conclusive interpretations of fact.

You can expect even the more serious conservatives to dumb down the debate over executive enforcement discretion and treat it as unambiguously settled in advance that anything Obama does here simply must illegal.

What else?