Jewish World Review May 19, 2014 / 19 Iyar, 5774
Obama hampering immigration reform
By Joseph Perkins
JewishWorldReview.com | With growing optimism in Washington that bipartisan immigration reform just might be enacted this year, President Barack Obama dampened that optimism this week with unhelpful remarks calculated, it appears, to rankle House Republicans.
The president suggested there is a two- to three-month window for the Boehner GOP to get off the dime on immigration reform and "get the ball rolling." The only impediment, he jabbed, is "a handful of House Republicans" too myopic to realize "that blocking immigration reform is not a good idea."
That's the kind of impolitic rhetoric by Obama that sank bipartisan immigration reform last year when it seemed near certain that both the Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House would agree on compromise legislation.
Indeed, with eight Senate Democrats and Republicans working in comity on an immigration bill that could win support on both sides of the aisle, and in both chambers of Congress, the Obama White House leaked its competing immigration reform proposal, which very nearly undid bipartisan Senate negotiations.
Then he followed up that divisive move by releasing some 2,000 illegal immigrants detained by Homeland Security for criminal offenses. And he attributed his actions to the sequester, for which he blamed Republicans.
Even newspapers that sided with Obama in his battle with Republicans over the sequester, like the Boston Globe, editorialized that his administration's release of thousands of undocumented immigrants wasn't the appropriate response to sequestration.
Meanwhile, last May, House Republicans and Democrats actually reached a breakthrough agreement on immigration reform. But, then, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, one of the bipartisan group of lawmakers who crafted the House legislation, got an 11th -hour phone call from the White House. Gutierrez was informed that President Obama opposed a compromise on border security House Democrats struck with Republicans to seal the deal on the lower chamber's immigration reform bill. And, just like that, the breakthrough agreement was undone.
Now, exactly one year later, the House appears ready to revisit immigration reform. And there is a very real possibility that a bipartisan agreement can be reached - again. That is, unless it is sabotaged - again - by President Obama.
The key provisions of such an agreement would remain the same this year as they were in 2013:
House Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, agreed with Republicans that deployment of E-Verify, as the system is known, would be the "hard trigger" for opening up that path to citizenship for the undocumented. President Obama objects to the hard trigger, which is not included in the soft immigration reform bill the Senate approved last year. But without the trigger, there is no guarantee the administration will make good on E-Verify and other essential border security measures.
That's why House Speaker John Boehner said recently that his Republican caucus is willing to take up immigration reform yet again, but they don't trust Obama to implement, in entirety, the legislation Congress sends to his desk.
That's a legitimate concern considering how this president has failed to enforce certain provisions of certain laws - like his unilateral delay of numerous provisions of Obamacare.
So while Obama asserts that a "handful of House Republicans" are standing in the way of immigration reform, the real obstacle is the president himself.
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© 2014, Joseph Perkins