News / USA

    Republicans Hesitate on Immigration Reform

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington,  Feb. 6, 2014. Boehner said it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year.
    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 6, 2014. Boehner said it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year.
    Earlier this year the prospects for immigration reform seemed bright.  Republican congressional leaders, especially House Speaker John Boehner, shifted their tone and indicated a willingness to find common ground with President Barack Obama and Democrats on legalizing the status of millions who had entered the country unlawfully.
     
    But the backlash was swift.  When it came time to float the idea to the conservative Republican conference in the House of Representatives, the air was squeezed out of the balloon quicker than a giggling five-year old.  When Speaker Boehner ran into conservative opposition within his own conference, he shifted the blame to President Obama, arguing that Republicans don’t trust him to enforce current immigration laws.
     
    Rather than try to resolve differences in the party that have plagued Republicans for several years, the leadership decided the risks of inter-party warfare were too great during a congressional election year.  Republican strategists focused on the short term political gains and argued that anything that took the party focus off of attacking Obamacare during the election cycle was a distraction and a waste of time.  They won out.  Immigration reform, it seems, has fallen victim to election politics yet again.
     
    None of this is reassuring to moderate Republicans and many in the business community who fear the party may be adding to its long term woes by passing on immigration reform this year.  President Obama lost the white vote to Mitt Romney in 2012 but it didn’t matter.  The president won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and the Obama coalition of young people, minorities and women carried him to re-election despite Romney’s strong showing with whites and even independent voters.  Forward-looking Republicans are worried that the party is missing an opportunity this year to make some progress on immigration reform, something that might begin to soften the Republican image among Hispanic and Asian-American voters, the two fastest-growing groups in the electorate.
     
    Could reform happen in 2015?  It gets more complicated.  The closer on the calendar you get to the Republican presidential primaries could work against any compromise on immigration reform.  As we saw in the 2012 primaries, the deep divide within the party over how to handle illegal immigrants already in the country will be on full display during the various presidential candidate debates held before and during the primaries and caucus votes during the 2016 presidential election cycle.  The odds of finding enough Republicans to support a compromise on immigration during this period would seem to be slim.  
     
    Changing Tactics
     
    While Republicans appear to be passing on immigration reform, it looks as though they are abandoning their tactic of using votes on raising the debt limit to extract spending cuts from the president and Democrats in Congress.  The decision this week to allow a “clean” debt limit bill to pass without any conditions or demands for additional spending cuts signals the end of a three-year strategy that Republican congressional leaders have now apparently deemed ineffective.
     
    The culmination of that strategy was last October’s shutdown of the federal government, spurred by Tea Party enthusiasts both within and outside of Congress, who were desperate to show conservatives back home that they were serious about trying to kill the Obama health care law.  But the tactic backfired on Republicans.  Their approval rating as a party began to seriously plummet and only evened off after serious problems arose with the web site for the health care law, which in turn dominated news headlines for weeks.
     
    The shutdown was a debacle for the Tea Party and emboldened mainstream Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to be less fearful of conservative threats and pressure.  Congressional leaders quickly agreed on a budget framework that was signed into law by President Obama, and that was followed by this week’s strategy on the debt limit extension.
     
    Conservative and Tea Party groups are very unhappy.  The Senate Conservatives Fund, an independent group that strikes fear in the hearts of Republican senators seeking to avoid far-right primary challengers, issued a statement demanding that Boehner must be replaced.  But unlike in past years, the reaction seems muted.  Republican leaders sense that Tea Party organizers are back on their heels a bit after the shutdown fiasco.  They are also being more aggressive in trying to weed out conservative primary challengers who can undermine Republican chances to win back control of the Senate this November.
     
    Republicans sense an opportunity in this year’s midterm elections and they don’t want to blow it.  They believe if they can field the right candidates in some key Senate races, they can both hold or increase their majority in the House and gain the six seats they need to take hold of the Senate.  If that happens, they believe President Obama would be effectively boxed in for his final two years in office.  Republicans would then have an opportunity to promote their proposals for smaller government in Congress as a kind of preview for the presidential election campaign two years from now.  After eight years of President Obama, Republicans see winning their year’s congressional elections as a key step in returning to power in the White House in 2016.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: USA PARENTS from: Illinois
    February 21, 2014 2:56 AM
    Families All good people
    our hearts and prayers go out to our families.
    Is our chance to get back to best of who we are.
    to lead by example with the dignity,
    integrity and honor that built this country
    and which will build it once again

    Please don't take us from our beliefs,
    and don't trample our freedom.
    Please don't separate us Families
    We are Illegal Parents, Wife's Husbands, Brothers and kids of Us Citizens And Us Families
    who serve out of the spotlight.
    We Want to be Part of us Families we want to know what is Freedom.
    May God Bless You
    And may God Bless the
    United States of America

    by: Wish Freedom from: Florida
    February 17, 2014 6:15 AM
    IDK why People stile just talk. Many people dyes for Freedom
    All USA History Fight for Freedom
    But where is Freedom Today?
    Where Is Constitution right?
    I see Kids like Parents are Deported.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bGc_iuR3sg

    by: sally from: maui
    February 14, 2014 9:36 PM
    I am sick and tires of this congress along with president Obama playing politics with people lives. Congress flip flop and president obama do not sign to stop deportations. This congress will have in record to block all bill and Mr. President Obama will in record who deported families who believe in him. I am very disappointed

    by: whatever from: FL
    February 14, 2014 10:56 AM
    They are fighting for their arsses not for people. Everything is about power, nobody cares for small people.

    by: jaswant dol from: Philippines
    February 14, 2014 1:21 AM
    Republican or democrat are same on immigration issue.they don't want it done
    In Response

    by: Milan Nikolic
    February 14, 2014 1:56 AM
    True!

    by: Bat from: New York
    February 13, 2014 4:29 PM
    Republicans are dreaming too big to control both houses, but let me tell you this they will lose majority in both houses in 2014.

    by: thomas bush from: sac,ca
    February 13, 2014 2:37 PM
    This artical was written by a repug,im sure,its a bunch of fantasy,too unreal.
    In Response

    by: John smith from: Texas
    February 13, 2014 7:34 PM
    Republican't keep dreaming you are too far away from reality. I am republican but tea party antiamerican party does not represent the American people at all. Times has changed.
    In Response

    by: hanna from: new york
    February 13, 2014 5:44 PM
    what may seem impossible can happen. stop hating on immigrants not all are mexican
    In Response

    by: Danny from: fort lauderdale
    February 13, 2014 3:48 PM
    .. I agree with you ,i think probably they still dreamIng, but its not going to happen!!!! they can dream it's free.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora