Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the start of President Obama’s deferred deportation program for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, which he authorized through executive authority last summer. As The Washington Post reported Tuesday, the Obama administration has granted more than 400,000 of those immigrants temporary legal status to work or go to school without fear of deportation.Wow, Rubio finally speaks after months of silence. The Republican establishment must be getting really nervous about the fate of reform in the House, because the last thing Rubio wants to do is remind base conservatives that he played a role in reform. He'd rather talk about defunding the government if Democrats don't scrap Obamacare as he tries to keep pace with Sen. Ted Cruz.
Now, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is warning that the administration is likely to dramatically expand the program to cover the majority of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Of course, Rubio knows that this "Obama will amnesty every by executive order" argument is bullshit, as the Obama Administration has shown zero inclination to pursue any such blanket administrative amnesty, and it legally couldn't anyway. In fact, it has done the opposite—it has significantly stepped up deportations of undocumented immigrants above the levels of the Bush Administration.
What Rubio is doing here is trying that reverse psychology schtick we saw Rep. Frank Wolf try last week—if you want to get crazy Republicans to act, tell them that it's inaction that Obama really wants. Because, of course, the crazies are reflexively opposed to everything Obama supports. If the president wants to cure cancer, those morons will decide cancer is "conservative" and fight for its right to kill people.
Pro-reform GOPers have been employing reverse psychology for a while now, arguing that Democrats actually want reform to fail so they can then blame Republicans and get an electoral boost in the coming election cycles. But no, that's not what we want. That would just be the silver lining if reform is killed by the House, which is where things seem to be headed. And while teabaggers have the emotional maturity of a five-year-old ("it's mine, mine, mine! And I'll punch you if you disagree."), they don't seem to be falling for this trick. You'll have to pry that xenophobia from their cold, dead fingers.
So if the Republican establishment really wants to get this thing passed, they're going to have to allow that open vote in the House, which takes us back to where we began: Everything hinges on what House Speaker John Boehner wants for his future. If it's about power, he'll stymie reform and hold on to his heavily gerrymandered House for a few more cycles as the rest of his party goes down in demographic flames. If it's about his party, he'll do the right thing, allow a free vote on the reform bill, and land cushily on K-Street with a million-dollar gig after the inevitable coup.