Immigration stall

July 10, 2014

A few days before the nation last celebrated its Independence Day, 68 members of the Senate passed and sent to the House a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Fourteen Republicans voted for the measure. Among them were Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the party’s 2008 presidential candidate, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a favorite of the GOP’s Tea Party wing.

A year later, after House Speaker John Boehner told him the House would not take up immigration reform this year, President Barack Obama understandably ran out of patience and announced Monday he would do as much as he could to fix the immigration system through executive action.

Boehner’s explanation for his inaction, repeated time and again through the months, is that House Republicans don’t trust the president to enforce whatever the House passes.

Either Boehner really enjoys spouting disingenuous excuses or he’s really lousy at math, because the facts strongly suggest this president is more committed to enforcing immigration laws than his predecessors were.

During Obama’s five-plus years in office, about 2 million undocumented aliens have been deported, a record-setting pace. That number equals the total deportations during all eight years former President George W. Bush occupied the White House.

And House Republicans don’t trust Obama to keep doing what he’s been doing? Go figure.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, nailed the real reason for Boehner’s inaction in a statement he issued Monday. “Speaker Boehner is bending to a minority of House Republicans and blocking a vote on common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform, which I believe would pass the House tomorrow,” Yarmuth said.

The minority Yarmuth referred to is the Tea Party faction of House Republicans. Boehner has been kowtowing to them on immigration reform, and former Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary defeat by a poorly funded Tea Party candidate no doubt factored into the speaker’s decision to shelve the reform bill in this election year.

So, maybe Boehner is just really lousy at math, because he doesn’t recognize the political math McCain recognized after the last election cycle when he and 13 other Senate Republicans opted in on immigration reform.

McClain’s explanation for his decision to support reform was, “Look at the last election.”

Hispanic voters overwhelmingly rejected Republican candidates in 2012. Considering their growing numbers in this nation, Boehner should fear them more than he fears Tea Partiers.

For his own sake and the sake of his party, Boehner would be wiser to act on immigration reform now instead of later.

— Herald Leader, Lexington, Ky.

Leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives hope to reach agreement soon on a bill addressing the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal. Among other things, it calls for veterans to get medical treatment from the private sector if they are placed on long waiting lists by the VA.

That would be progress. But another major section of the bill, allowing the VA to expand its facilities, is part of an old pattern in Washington. It is to throw taxpayers’ money at a problem and hope it will go away.

But what of VA officials accused of keeping veterans on long waiting lists for care, then lying about it? Little has been said about consequences for them — to discourage similar misdeeds in the future.

Until that is addressed, don’t count on the VA truly improving much.

— The (Warren) Tribune Chronicle