Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could end deportations of undocumented immigrants today. Boehner can call an open vote of the House — as he has done many, many times, ignoring the “Hastert Rule” when convenient — and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Today.
Since 2010 the House has never held a vote on immigration — with the exception of a few attempts to end President Obama’s relief for the children of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors. Most recently, the House voted to be able to sue Obama and end the president’s “mini-Dream Act” — thereby adding the Dreamers to the list of deportable people.
In Boehner’s powerful institutional role, he can fix our destructive immigration system, which he has said is not serving the country well, but instead chooses to put the narrow, provincial needs of his party above the national interest.
Speaker Boehner is America’s deporter in chief.
Ironically, segments of the immigration-activist community have decided to pressure Obama to “end all deportations now” through a new power they’ve identified: executive fiat. While this tactic is driven more by emotions than a strategic vision for success, the pivot toward pressuring the president and ignoring Boehner has given Republicans in Congress the opportunity to ignore immigration reform altogether.
One supposes a sense of deep relief as the Speaker no longer has to deal with pesky activist demonstrations in his office: no more fasts on the National Mall; no more tsunamis of tweets creating ever higher levels of pressure.
How freeing it must feel to know that the media echo chamber is now pursuing the tasty story of the “base” turning against “Obama” for his supposed failure to act on immigration, as opposed to the Boehner-led House failure to act on immigration and myriad other national priorities.
Hispanic media, largely the province of foreign journalists with worldviews formed in faraway lands, is happy to go along. The puerile incantation “Obama broke his promise” is repeated with relish, as if the facts no longer matter and being seen as “activists” in their own right overwhelms their duty to report the facts.
Today deportations can end, if Boehner allows an open vote of the House. Until he chooses that path, he remains the one man in America with the power to turn off the punitive, strategically dumb and costly deportation machine in America.
Espuelas, a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, is a political analyst on television, radio and in print. He is the host and managing editor of “The Fernando Espuelas Show,” a daily political talk show syndicated nationally by the Univision America Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @EspuelasVox.