Political correspondent Ronald Brownstein noted, in a recent essay in The Atlantic about the current election cycle, “If there was a major GOP candidate in these primaries who did not loudly declare their support for building Trump’s border wall, I didn’t see it.
“Likewise, every major GOP candidate pledged to crack down on so-called ‘sanctuary cities,’ which limit their cooperation with federal immigration-enforcement officials, and several pledged to constrict legal immigration.”
The same could be said for the 2016 election cycle, which delivered Republicans not only control of Congress, but also the White House.
Brownstein, had he been so inclined, might also have observed that one would have to search long and hard to find a GOP candidate who has not loudly declared his or her opposition to an illegal alien amnesty, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (pictured above left).
Based on these empirically true observations, one might also assume that, with control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans would, by now, have appropriated funds (or made a serious effort) to build the border wall, penalized jurisdictions that illegally implement sanctuary policies, and even moved toward a leaner and more rational legal immigration policy.
Further, it would be reasonable to assume that the GOP leadership — led by Ryan — would have taken amnesty for illegal aliens off the table, at least until the promises that helped them take full control of the federal government had been kept.
One would be wrong. True to form, the do-nothing Congress has done nothing to deliver on any immigration legislation that might protect the interests and security of the American people. Notwithstanding their inability to fulfill the promises they made (and the promises they are again making in 2018), the Republican-led House seems poised to do exactly what they said they wouldn’t.
A minority of House Republicans, together with a unified Democratic caucus, are on the brink of gathering enough signatures on a discharge petition that would force a floor vote on an immigration bill.
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Given the Democrats’ adamant opposition to legislation that includes any meaningful immigration enforcement provisions (much less adoption of a merit-based legal immigration process), the only conceivable outcome of the discharge petition is a bill that, at best, is heavy on amnesty with perhaps a few vague enforcement promises that will likely never be funded.
The public is used to politicians betraying promises to save their own skin. What is unusual is that in this case, the Vichy Republicans who are behind the discharge effort are not only reneging on the party’s commitments on immigration, but are also undermining their own interests just as the political winds have begun blowing their way.
Fueled in part by the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy for illegal immigration, and the increasingly radical open border stances of the Democratic Party (including the appearance of Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, pictured above right, at a May Day rally sporting a T-shirt proclaiming in Spanish, “I do not believe in borders”), Republicans now enjoy a slight edge over Democrats in a generic poll about party preference in the midterm elections.
Even if the rogue Republicans can muster enough votes to make an end-run around their leadership and get a Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors DREAM (for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act amnesty though both houses of Congress , it would likely be vetoed by President Donald Trump.
Their party would get no credit from the segment of the electorate that wants a clean amnesty bill, and would look like the Keystone Kops in the eyes of their base — not a good look heading into a difficult election.
Instead of worrying about being portrayed as the party obstructing the demands of illegal aliens for amnesty, the Republicans should approve a bill that fulfills the American public’s agenda for immigration reform — border security, workplace enforcement, an end to sanctuary policies that protect foreign criminals, a merit-based legal immigration policy, and other provisions that serve the national interest — and force their opponents to obstruct it in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Fully one-quarter of Republican voters rate immigration as the most important issue in the midterm elections. These tend to be folks who support enforcement and oppose amnesty. By contrast, only 10 percent of Democratic voters rate immigration as their top concern in the 2018 elections.
As is often the case, good policy and good politics go hand in hand. Republicans have a chance to deliver real immigration reform and reap the rewards. Instead, a rogue faction seems hellbent on betraying past promises as they get ready to ask the voters for another two-year lease on the leadership of Congress.
Ira Mehlman is media director at Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
(photo credit, homepage images: Paul Ryan, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore / Keith Ellison, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Lorie Shaull ; photo credit, article images: Paul Ryan, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore / Keith Ellison, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Lorie Shaull)
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