Republicans plan to kill immigration reform

DREAMers may see their dream of citizenship end as well. Photo: Sen. Rubio speaking on the immigration bill flanked by two of the Gang of Eight, Senators Schumer and McCain AP photo

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2013 — Republicans return this week to cause even more mayhem in Congress. Their first target: the immigration bill, which they will dismantle, saddle with impossible amendments or filibuster. Whichever tactics they use, they are out to stop it cold.

Should it squeak through the Senate, look for sudden death in the House.

Despite overwhelming support by the American people for immigration reform, despite the Gang of Eight that hammered out a flawed, but possible bill, and despite the likelihood that defeating the immigration bill is basically political suicide in 2016, Republicans have returned from their recess ready to do whatever it takes to obstruct any meaningful work in Congress.

Why? you might ask. It’s illogical, as Spock might say.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) AP photo

Simple, two words: President Obama. He wants it and they are going to make sure, that just like gun control legislation, he won’t get it.

Such diverse groups as businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, and the Catholic Church all voice support for the bill, but Republicans are targeting it for extinction. While it’s a flawed bill, the legislation includes plans to enhance border security, create an agricultural guest-worker program, and overhaul the legal immigration system while providing a 13-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

But there will be no special fast track for the young people called the DREAMers, the children of people who came here illegally. So even if the bill passes, the Gang of Eight doesn’t provide the faster path to citizenship that President Obama wants for the DREAMers.

So why commit political suicide by opposing reform? Republican opposition will undermine Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) chances to run for president, the man who many thought would be the Party’s standard bearer.

Watch for fellow Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a border state, to bring a machete to the immigration discussion. And if Rubio gets sliced and diced in the process, so be it. Rumor has it that Cruz has presidential aspirations himself, knowing his great appeal to the tea party base, which cringes at the thought of 11 million illegal immigrants becoming citizens, even if they have to go through bureaucratic contortions while waiting 13 years to apply.

Cruz would be the tough, no nonsense candidate, in the mold of the infamous Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. No squishy, quasi-liberal making deals with the Democrats as part of the Gang of Eight for him.

If that’s Cruz’s probable agenda, what about the rest of the Republican senators and House members?

It’s hard to believe that they have a problem with the draconian immigration bill crafted by four Republicans and four Democrats (Rubio, South Carolina Lindsay Graham, Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake; New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Mike Bennet, and New Jersey Sen. Menendez), the most important immigration legislation since 1986, but they do.

Since the Boston bombing by two Dagestan immigrants turned terrorists, the Tsarnaev brothers have overnight become the poster boys for anti-immigration forces, even though the proposed the reforms would actually toughen background checks on people seeking entry into the U.S. The Daily Beast succinctly stated their reasoning: “Some immigrants want to kill us.”

Yes, and some home grown Americans want to kill us as well, ready to commit acts of violence in the name of whatever twisted cause they believe. Witness the recent ricin sent to the President, a Mississippi senator and a judge.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) AP photo

Since returning from their districts, where they supposedly heard from their constituents, Congressional members from Red states claim that their conservative (read right wing) base is clamoring for change in — no, make that gutting — the immigration bill.

Rubio himself now doesn’t believe it can pass the House and is already backtracking from the bill that was supposed to be his signature piece, his ticket to the presidency. As he wrote last Friday in the an op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal:

“Since my colleagues and I introduced immigration legislation, intense public scrutiny has helped identify shortcomings and unintended consequences that need to be addressed.”

Translation: Get ready for the gutting amendments to kill the bill.

The first round in the ultimate demise of immigration will happen when the Senate Judiciary Committee begins marking up the legislation on Thursday.

Keep in mind that at least three other Senate panels have also scheduled hearings on the bill. By the time it reaches the floor, it will be sagging under the weight of amendments.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), always a strident voice against the bill since the 2007 push for immigration reform, claims it will allow more immigration rather than control it, all to the detriment of American workers and jobs. “It’s going to be like that mackerel in the sunshine — the longer it’s out there, the worse it smells,” Sessions said. Actually, both unions and businesses see reform as a boost to the economy, not a hindrance to jobs and growth.

However, with friends like Sessions, the four Republican members of the Gang of Eight are in deep trouble on the floor of the Senate and back at home. It is about to become truly nasty.

You don’t think it can get that brutal? Just listen to former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, a Republican and a supporter of the immigration reform bill in 2007, which was defeated, and what he had to say about trying to get the bill passed six years ago: “I’ve been through this battle, and it’s ugly. My phones were jammed for three weeks and I got three death threats, one of which I turned over to the FBI. So it’s rough business.”

So stay tuned, folks. You ain’t seen nothing yet. 

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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