Is GOP Walking Into Immigration Trap?

Michelle Bachmann is one of those Republican firebrands who will keep Hispanics voting in the Democratic column for a long time.

She said the President's policy announced Thursday night means those immigrants he wants to let remain here will become "illiterate" voters.  Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thought the Tea Party leader's comments were "unfortunate, unfair, unnecessary, unwise," the Washington Post reported.

The over-the-top response of most Republicans — totally ignoring similar actions by Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush — and talk of impeachment will only help Democrats.

No one can take Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) seriously when he says the President acted prematurely without giving the incoming congress a chance to act on the matter.  He knows the Republican led House blocked it for nearly two years and, if anything, will be even more obstructionist with a Republican majority in the Senate.

McCain cautioned his younger colleagues about their over-the-top rhetoric. "(T)hese young punks around here…ought to listen to us old geezers." Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania urged his colleagues to "not play into the president's hands." 

But with Cruz, Bachmann, King and the tea baggers, that advice falls on deaf ears.

Bachmann said Obama's immigration policies would mean "millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can't speak the English language."  She said she's opposed to what the president is doing because she wants to protect "natural-born Americans."

Bachmann is retiring at the end of this term but is hinting that she may make another run for the GOP presidential nomination.  She won the Iowa straw poll in 2011 and her candidacy went downhill from there; her major contribution to the campaign season was as comic relief, but she had a lot of competition from Texas Gov. Rick "ooops" Perry and Herman "9-9-9" Cain.

In addition to impeachment some Republicans are threatening to shut down the government, take the President to court, pass bills voiding his action and hold their breath until they turn blue unless he surrenders to their non-negotiable demands.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the new darling of the Tea Baggers with Bachmann leaving, wants the Republican controlled 114th Congress to punish the president by refusing to vote on any of his nominees.

Out on the lunatic fringe of the party is Rep Steve King (R-Iowa), a strident anti-immigration voice who is once again talking impeachment. He accused the president of "defying his oath." The anti-immigration rhetoric among some Republican lawmakers has included charges that ISIS terrorists, in cahoots with the drug cartels, are sneaking across the Mexican border carrying Ebola to spread to good, white native-born Americans. 

It is not as though the Republicans haven't had time to come up with a comprehensive reform bill or give the House a chance to vote on the bipartisan Senate bill. They're too deeply divided to come up with a bill that Democrats could support.

There's no path to citizenship in the President's new executive order but it does open the way for 5 million undocumented persons to remain here legally.  The primary thrust of the Republican approach has been to pour more money into border security while rounding up all those illegals and tossing them in jail or shipping them back where they came from. Never mind that the number of people trying to cross our borders illegally is the lowest since the 1970s, as the President reported, they see immigration primarily as a criminal problem.

Journalist Chris Nelson wrote in his Washington newsletter that beyond trying to fix the nation's broken immigration system with his "quite legal executive order powers," Obama "in passing" will "embarrass the hell out of the R's and make the GOP even less likely to attract significant Hispanic voters in '16…or ever, for that matter." 

"Obama forcing the move now would put every Republican presidential candidate in the horrible position of having to denounce his action, and stick to that line, to have any chance of winning GOP primaries and thus the nomination," he added.

Another Republican wingnut Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks doesn't want to just impeach the president, he wants him arrested and tossed in the slammer for breaking a federal law — he doesn't know what law but he's sure there must be one making it a felony to "aid, abet or entice a foreigner to illegally enter the United States." 

"I don't have the citation for it at the tip of my tongue," Brooks told Slate, but it carries "a five-year-in-jail penalty."

The President said, "Our immigration system is broken."  That ain't all that needs fixin'.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.