At the annual retreat held by House Republicans this past week John Boehner broached the subject of immigration reform, prompting some 45 members to step up to speak on the issue. One participant said that the divide between those who think that it is time to move ahead and craft a reform bill and those opposed was about 3 to 1 in favor of those opposed to any reform.
They are at least talking and a panel on MSNBC made up of Republican strategist Chip Saltsman, Washington Post political reporter Jackie Kucinich, and MSNBC contributor Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto discussed the possibility of a break through on the subject.
The Senate has passed a reform bill but the House so far has shown no interest in doing the same and it is sure to be a very contentious subject within the party. The hard right members will demand that nothing with even a hint of amnesty be included while the more moderate members of the party will see the positive aspects of acting on it, with the party drawing fewer Latino votes the firmer they stand against reform.
Saltsman was asked about the call for stricter enforcement of existing law when there have been more deportations under this President than any other in recent history.
“If you’ve been to the border, which I have, where people get picked up on the border, they’re held for 24 hours and they’re released by saying, ‘here’s your court date in 30 days,’ well they never come back,” he said. “I think that what he’s saying is secure the border first.”
Soto responded to this by pointing out that it is less about securing the border than it is about reducing the demand that draws Mexicans to this country.
“We can secure the border all we want,” she said, “but ultimately people are coming over because there’s a demand, because employers are hiring undocumented persons.”
Kucinich spoke to the elephant in the room, the fact that many Republicans who might be willing to address reform are already facing primary challenges from hard right Tea party supported challengers and are afraid to do anything until after the primary season is over that may upset their base voters.
Ted Cruz has demonstrated this with his accusation that the plan that more moderate members are talking about is amnesty. The plan which calls for those wishing to become legal to admit that they have done wrong and pay substantial fines and back taxes before being granted legal status may not sound much like amnesty to most but to the hard right it sounds like giving the farm away.
The one thing that the panel is in total agreement on is the fact that there is little chance of anything getting done before the summer, after the primaries are over.
Watch the discussion in the video below.