House Bipartisan Group on Immigration Reform Totally Collapses Because Barack Obama Is President

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 20 2013 2:47 PM

House Bipartisan Group on Immigration Reform Totally Collapses Because Barack Obama Is President

Future generations will know Sept. 20 as "bipartisanship day." Moments after the House passed a fight-stirring continuing resolution to fund every aspect of the government besides Obamacare, two Republican members of that body's immigration working group—a gang of eight that has dwindled to a fast five—announced that they were quitting. The quitters, Rep. John Carter and Rep. Sam Johnson, explain that they don't trust Barack Obama to act in good faith, so they had no choice but to quit.

After years of hard work and countless meetings, we have reached a tipping point and can no longer continue working on a broad approach to immigration. We want to be clear.  The problem is politics.  Instead of doing what’s right for America, President Obama time and again has unilaterally disregarded the U.S. Constitution, the letter of the law and bypassed the Congress – the body most representative of the people - in order to advance his political agenda.  We will not tolerate it.  Laws passed by Congress are not merely suggestions, regardless of the current atmosphere in Washington.  Laws are to be respected and followed by all – particularly by the Commander-in-Chief. 
Starting off with the President’s hallmark legislation – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - ObamaCare.  The Obama administration has changed, waived or delayed key provisions with a single stroke of a pen.  Congress opposed new laws that would infringe on Americans’ Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, but the President resorted to executive fiat to curtail those rights.  Congress rejected the President’s cap and trade bill, yet he issued rules to reduce Americans’ access to our own energy resources that would help make us energy independent. The administration’s practice of hand-picking what parts of laws they wish to enforce has irrevocably damaged our efforts of fixing our broken immigration system.

That means the House's version of an immigration working group, which had sort of mastered the art of claiming it had a deal then releasing nothing, is functionally useless. It now consists of four Democrats and one Republican, not enough to give conservatives cover even if the plan followed along the lines leaked to the media, with a 15-year path to citizenship and strict enforcement.

Should we be surprised? Consider the context in which this wacky adventure began. Nine months ago, a considerable number of Republicans were panicked about their 2012 losses and worried that demographics—starting with huge losses among Hispanic and Asian voters—doomed them for future presidential elections. But it's turned out that counting on a second-term president to become unpopular is a perfectly sound strategy for the opposition party's recovery, one that doesn't ask for any change at all.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.