Provoking the GOP on immigration


We are beginning to wonder if President Barack Obama truly wants to see bipartisan immigration reform become law this year, as he professed in his inaugural address and his State of the Union address last week.

Otherwise, why would the White House allow a supposed confidential draft of its immigration proposal, which differs from the bipartisan plan gaining momentum in Congress, fall into the hands of USA Today’s immigration reporter, who dutifully wrote about it, ensuring it would be much-discussed in the broader media?

Predictably, the Obama White House invoked the Claude Rains defense (named for the actor who played police Capt. Louis Renault in the movie “Casablanca”). We’re shocked, shocked, said White House spokesmen, to find that our alternative immigration reform proposal was somehow leaked to the media.

Republicans were understandably dubious. It was a “mistake,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress.” If the president’s proposal was actually introduced on Capitol Hill, Sen. Rubio warned, “It would be dead on arrival.”

Sunday on CNN, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., did not go so far as to directly criticize President Obama. However, Sen. Schumer tacitly agreed with Rubio when the New York Democrat said, “It’s obvious that if a Democrat, the president or anyone else, puts out what they want on their own, it’s going to be different than when you have a bipartisan agreement.”

And, in an effort to smooth things over with Republicans who feel they were blindsided by the release of Obama’s proposed immigration overhaul, which he promised to withhold unless bipartisan negotiations broke down in Congress, Schumer stated, in no uncertain terms, “The only way we’re going to get something done is with a bipartisan agreement.”

The framework of that agreement already has been laid out by the Senate’s so-called Gang of Eight, a group including Sens. Schumer and Rubio. It would ramp up border security, ensure employers hire legal immigrants, create a guest worker program and provide a path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants who fulfill certain criteria.

While President Obama has expressed support for the efforts by the bipartisan Gang of Eight, Sen. Rubio complained that the president’s leaked immigration proposal “does nothing to address guest workers or future flow, which serious immigration experts agree is critical to preventing future influxes of illegal immigrants.”

In an appearance Sunday on the CBS news show “Face the Nation,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough defended the president’s immigration reform proposal and threatened that the White House “will be ready with our plan” if negotiations break down on Capitol Hill.

Such a threat is counterproductive. Moreover, if the White House actually followed through with it, it would doom immigration reform this year because, while legislation with only Democratic support could pass the Senate, it would have absolutely no chance in the Republican-controlled House.

President Obama knows that. That’s why it makes no sense for him to needlessly provoke Republicans when Congress is on the cusp of bipartisan immigration reform.

— From the Orange County Register

 

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