How Not to Win Friends

Following up the last post — this is where the House is going today —

House Republicans pushed legislation on Friday that would clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

After more than a year of inaction on the contentious issue of immigration, House GOP leaders were optimistic about securing tea party and other conservative support for two bills that Republicans can highlight when they return home to voters during Congress’ five-week summer break.

Votes were expected late Friday.

A revised, $694 million border security bill would provide $35 million for the National Guard and clarify a provision on quickly returning unaccompanied minors from Central America to their home countries.

The President had requested $3.7 billion, remember.

To appeal to hard-core immigration foes, Republicans also toughened a companion bill targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama implemented in 2012 and Republicans blame for the flood of immigrants now.

The bill states that the president cannot renew or expand the program, effectively paving the way for deportation for the children brought here illegally.

Again, the DACA only applies to people who entered the country before June 15, 2012. The more pertinent law is one called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2008. The law provides that any child entering the country, except for Canadian and Mexican nationals, must be given a full immigration hearing to be sure they aren’t human trafficking victims. That’s the law Congress expects the President to ignore and just deport children without a hearing.

Even if the House passes the bill on Friday, Obama’s request for more money to deal with the border crisis will go unanswered. The Senate blocked its version of a border security bill, and there are no plans to work out any compromise before Congress returns in September.

Emerging from a closed-door GOP meeting, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., rejected the notion that it was a pointless exercise since the Senate won’t act.

“It’ll be the template for what needs to be done and also it might slow the president down,” Mica told reporters.

In other words they lack the political will to do anything, but they can manage to throw up roadblocks to stop anyone else from doing anything.

Also, some less extremist House Republicans are frustrated that senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz are meeting with bagger members of the House and influencing their votes.

Democrats relished the Republican divide, with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., derisively referring to “Speaker Cruz.

See also Morning Plum: Obama warns GOP — I’m acting alone on immigration.

On Immigration, Plenty of Stupid to Spread Around

Before I launch into the big ol’ mess o’ derp that is the U.S. Congress, I want to say something to pro-immigration reform activists. Yesterday a group of more than 100 religious leaders and immigration activists were arrested in Washington, DC, after they refused to clear a sidewalk where they were rallying. Coming on the same day Congress had an immigration meltdown and failed to pass even a watered-down bill to meet the border crisis, aka the Great Toddler Invasion, these arrests should have made a big splash. Given the Bigger Asshole rule, how was this ineffective?

Because the activists were not protesting Congress; they were protesting the White House.  Duh, foolish activists.

On to Congress: After weeks of smirking that the President was failing to lead on the border crisis issue, Washington Republicans in the House and Senate showed a degree of resolve and maturity that proved toddlers aren’t just at the border. I’d like to send them all commemorative sippy cups.

Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter explains what happened yesterday:

Keep in mind that the bill the House was supposed to vote on yesterday was already a deeply slimmed-down version of President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to supply more border officials to deal with the influx, and facilities for the children, and, most especially, more judges to hear the children’s claims for asylum as refugees. The House bill offered only $659 million, which is no small change, but in DC it is a rounding error. And, to appease his conservative, Tea Party base, Speaker John Boehner also offered a vote on a measure to rein in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has granted certain legal protections from deportation to half a million Americans who were brought across the border as children. That measure was not destined to go anywhere, but at least the Tea Partyers could tell the folks back home that they tried and blame it on the Senate or the President that DACA was not ended.

Note that the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals policy only applies to people who entered the country before June 15, 2012, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the current crisis.

But, the Tea Partyers were having none of it. After a night of pizza and Dr. Pepper in the office of Sen. Ted Cruz, the hard core caucus refused to back Boehner’s bill. Democrats were not going to support it either because it had cut back on providing the funds needed, and would have fast-tracked the deportation of these children. So, Boehner pulled the bill before letting it go to a vote that would have failed. …

… In case you think the U.S. Senate is a paragon of reasonableness, they failed also yesterday in their efforts to pass a $2.7 billion appropriation to deal with the border issue. The bill failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened filibuster.

Do read all of Winters’s report, and also Eugene Robinson.

I understand the House is going to try again today to pass something regarding immigration. We’ll see.