Why Immigration Reform Will Fail
Nobody Trusts Barack Obama
President Obama was back on the stump Thursday. This time he was hawking his political agenda in advance of next year’s midterm elections.
In the usual White House setting with enthusiastic backers standing in as human props, Obama delivered tired boilerplate about the urgency of passing so-called immigration reform. He praised the Senate-passed immigration bill and then issued a challenge to Republicans in the House.
“So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why,” Obama said. “A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.”
Setting aside the fact that Americans do not place immigration reform very high on their priority list – it is the economy and jobs that count – it is easy to answer why many in Congress are “standing in the way” of immigration reform. They don’t trust Barack Obama.
Scores of Republicans, and even some Democrats, have been burned badly by presidential promises gone bad. He refuses to negotiate, yet blames others for a failure to compromise. He changes the law at will, picking and choosing provisions that suit his agenda.
The Senate-passed immigration reform bill is chock-full of measures that will require enforcement by the president. The most sensitive is border security. But the president has been at war with law enforcement for years in ways that make it impossible for border agents to enforce the law.
The last vestiges of trust in the president were destroyed in the recent showdown over the federal budget and national debt. The conflict was laced with name-calling and personal attacks. There was no give and lots of take.
Republican Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho, a proponent of immigration reform, was once a member of a bipartisan House group that worked for weeks to produce an immigration bill. Then he left the group when he had differences with the overall goal of the effort.
Now Labrador is warning his colleagues that it is a lack of trust in any bipartisan effort that will doom immigration reform.
“If the president is going to show the same kind of good faith effort that he’s shown over the last couple of weeks,” Labrador said, “then I think it would be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with them on immigration.”
Trust and a good faith effort are the coin of the realm in politics and policymaking. But there is none of it in the White House. President Obama has so poisoned the well that his agenda is all rhetoric and no reality.
The president has heard harsh words from the very Republicans he needs to make any progress in pursuing his agenda. Next year he will hear from the voters.