Washington’s groupthink has the immigration heat solely turned up on the GOP. They certainly are in the news–with some House Republican holdouts threatening to derail an overhaul to the immigration laws, Speaker John Boehner unable to tame his unruly conference, and the crazies–the Congressman Steve Kings of the world, who compare immigrants to dogs, liken DREAMers–students and military service members brought to the U.S. illegally–to drug runners with calves the size of cantaloupes from hauling tons of weed across the border.
If you’re obsessed with the immigration debate like your faithful scribe, you know that the Latino advocacy community never let President Obama off the hook. In Spanish language media, activists, lead by the DREAMers, have never stopped criticizing the record removals on this President’s watch. The summer of 2011 is a turning point because they break from the broader Latino advocacy community which kept its discontent with the White House entre nos–amongst themselves–and protest at White House hosted town halls and the President’s speech at the NCLR annual convention which I witnessed and write about in “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate: Carne Asada at NCLR.” To them he became and still is the “Deportation President”.
The DREAMers’ very public and social media savvy squeeze on the Administration in the run up to Election 2012 not only results in the pressing of the pause button in the deportations of DREAMers, but in being closer than we’ve been in twenty-five years to reforming our immigration laws.
If immigration reform falls apart, it’s not just going to be the Republicans who get heat in future elections. Activists will demand the President offer relief–an equally urgent yet messy proposition because of the high and growing numbers of mixed status families, neighborhoods, and congregations.
Can the President offer relief to an estimated eleven million illegal immigrants–a de facto expansion of the DREAMer deferred action program? I don’t see this: polls show Americans may support some kind of immigration reform, with an overwhelming majority in favor of putting DREAMers on a path to citizenship. But if the frame changes away from a process that would bring millions into the American fold to one large and sweeping action by one person?
Forget the right wing Internuts. This won’t sit well with Americans.
Republicans may own immigration’s failure but, they, the President, and Democrats equally inherit its political consequences.
This was the main topic discussed on MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts show during the Agenda Panel roundtable with Salon’s Joan Walsh and MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin. We also discussed Vice President Joe Biden’s smoke signals that he hasn’t ruled out running in 2016, Hils be darned.
Click below to watch my appearance which aired on August 14, 2013.