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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Immigration reform has Boehner, Cantor looking for emergency exits

Steve Benen: House Republicans are still opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, but they’re suddenly taking a fresh look at the Dream Act.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday offered an endorsement for a proposal to grant citizenship to children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

"This is about basic fairness," Boehner said one week after convening a two-hour meeting to discuss immigration with his conference. “These children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they’re in a very difficult position," he said. “And I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) recently sounded a very similar note. “It’s an issue of decency and compassion," he said. “Where else would these kids go?"

To that end, The Hill reports that Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are crafting a bill to deal with children brought to the U.S. illegally, and the measure will likely get an initial House hearing next week.
Of course, Benen points out some problems with this new line by House GOP leadership. First, they hated the DREAM Act when it first came around. Boehner and Cantor both voted against it. Further, “just last month, nearly every member of the House Republican caucus voted to deport Dream Act kids." And finally, if the DREAM Act got passed, it wouldn’t be any sort of aternative to immigration reform, since it doesn’t protect the families of all these newly-minted citizens. “Congratulations, we’ve passed the Dream Act and you can stay," Benen imagine House GOP saying. “Now say goodbye to your mom and dad."

The fact is that immigration reform is dying in the House, Boehner and Cantor recognize that this would be electoral suicide for their party, but they can’t do anything to stop it because the “leadership" part of “House leadership" is entirely theoretical. They both lead by following and when the two bump heads, as they often do, the disagreement is over what faction should be leading them around by the nose.

So, politics still being the art of the possible, they see the DREAM Act as something they could maybe, possibly, with a little luck talk enough self-destructively bigoted Tea Party nutjobs into passing. Then they’ll just start talking about it as “immigration reform" and hope — as they always do — that voters are too stupid to know the difference.

[photo via (Washington & Jefferson College)]

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