President Obama is pushing for immigration reform now while the GOP has been knocked on their heels from the government shutdown. Obama is trying to give them a way out by moving a bill that a majority in both congressional chambers can agree to. The operative word here is compromise.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group, told NPR “If they want to take advantage of the get-out-of-jail card Democrats have offered them, this would be the perfect opportunity to do it.”
There have been huge rallies around immigration since way before the last presidential election. Groups like America’s Voice are going to step up their rallies regardless of what Congress does. Sharry continues with a determined outcry, “We’re going to throw down until they either say ‘yes’ or they make it clear they’re not going to get to yes and then we’ll pivot to try to un-elect them.” That sounds like a determined group.
These advocacy groups believe that, after the shutdown debacle , the GOP is ready to show the country that they can govern. NPR reported that after successfully staring down congressional Republicans in the shutdown-debt ceiling fight, President Obama has pivoted to immigration in a move with almost no downside.
I have found the enemy and it is us. If President Obama is trying to push for immigration reform, the Tea Partiers will find a way to turn it against him. Sen. Rubio (R-FL), has already begun to turn the blame towards Obama. Rubio said that “The president has undermined this effort, absolutely, because of the way he has behaved over the last three weeks.”
Like Rubio, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), also has immigrant parents. The American Prospect reported him as saying, “After the way the president acted over the last two or three weeks where he would refuse to talk to the Speaker of the House … they're not going to get immigration reform. That's done.”
The President will have to show some strong leadership skills that can drive a wedge between the Tea Party caucus in both Houses and the more moderate Republicans.
What would happen if we have a debate about immigration? That would bring the GOP out of the darkness and into the public light and hold the Tea Party’s feet to the fire. That should be the first thing Congress should do to bring about change on the subject of immigration. The president has already alluded to the second point of attack. In a comment he made on Univision last week, he said, “We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate. The only thing right now that’s holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.