National Journal: Boehner Slow-Walking Immigration Reform in House

Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 10:40 PM

By Todd Beamon

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House Republicans are not going to address immigration reform until October — "a tactical play designed to boost reform's chances," The National Journal reports.

By delaying the immigration debate until after their monthlong recess in August, it "helps avoid a recess filled with angry town-hall meetings reminiscent of the heated August 2009 protests where the backlash against healthcare reform coalesced," the Journal reported on Tuesday. "Doing nothing also starves Democrats of a target, Republicans argue."

After a July 10 special conference meeting on immigration, House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy "realized there was only enough support to pass tougher border security and, maybe, beefed-up stateside enforcement before August," the Journal reports.

This realization, however, "raised serious strategic problems," for Boehner, the Journal reports.

In passing tougher border measures before the August recess, the House would shift debate from other more politically charged issues, including whether to give "Dreamers" — children brought to this country illegally by their parents — options for staying in the United States.

"While House leaders publicly insist on dealing with the immigration issues separately, they privately are wary of letting their piecemeal approach be taken out of context," the Journal reports.

In addition, the Democrats would find a bonanza in any GOP move to tighten border security.

They would again paint "Republicans as interested only in legislation that cracks down on immigrants. Or, as one senior House leadership aide put it, 'all you did was pass bills that on the surface look discriminatory,'" the Journal reports.

"A month of ads smacking Republicans for being anti-immigrant was not a happy prospect."

October is the best month to address the issue because September has only nine legislative days, most of which will be devoted to reaching deals to keep the government afloat for the next fiscal year.

“There’s no rush on this," a House aide told the Journal. "There’s no deadline. We want to get this done, and we want to get this done right."

There's also mistrust of the Obama White House, the Journal notes.

“Our members fundamentally don’t believe that this administration will enforce the parts of the bill that they don’t like,” the aide told the Journal.

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