Life is what happens when we make other plans, and the Boston bombings happened right as immigration reform proponents concluded their bill was ready to go public. No matter how hard supporters and the Gang of Eight members who wrote the legislation try to deny or mitigate it, the terror attacks have slowed reform’s momentum considerably and may have indeed blown it up entirely.
Reformers are perfectly aware of how much more difficult the bombings has made their sales pitch — they are in an outright panic. All they have to do is read the blistering attacks from conservatives against reforms that were nowhere to be found two weeks ago. As the fight has burst into the open, reform authors are scrambling to counter the perception that the naysayers could doom the bill.
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerAn anti-government ideologue like Mulvaney shouldn't run OMB Boehner endorses DeVos for Education secretary Trump, House GOP could clash over 'Buy America' MORE (R-Ohio) came out and said the attacks should not affect immigration reform’s prospects in Congress, and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanOvernight Cybersecurity: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning's sentence | A malware mystery Ryan: Obama’s Manning commutation ‘outrageous’ GOP chairman defends tax proposal after Trump criticism MORE (R-Wis.) did a pro-immigration event with the leading Democrat on the issue, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.), this week in Chicago. As the manhunt concluded last week, with suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead and the other suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in custody, Rubio and Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamHaley to question US funding of UN: report Graham, Cruz proposal to defund the U.N. is misguided 9 GOP senators Trump must watch out for MORE (R-S.C.) and John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Cybersecurity: Obama commutes Chelsea Manning's sentence | A malware mystery Overnight Defense: Obama commutes Manning's sentence | Boeing sees 'progress' on Air Force One costs | McCain's 0B defense budget McCain: Leak of Trump dossier ‘totally wrong’ MORE (R-Ariz.) rushed to promote their legislation as the antidote to the current, broken system that poses a threat to our national security.
Graham estimated a whopping 70 votes in support of a bill in the Senate, according to Fred Barnes’s piece in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday titled “Immigration Reform is Starting to Roll.”
That was not a consensus shared by editors at National Review Online, who wrote that the Boston bombings have increased objections to the bill because they highlighted failures in our current system “that the bill under consideration would do little or nothing to rectify and would in some cases make considerably worse.” The editorial mocks Graham’s — yet not Rubio’s — assertion that the legislation would reduce threats more than the current system.
“Senator Graham’s endless infomercials to the contrary are either cynical politics or sloppy thinking — both of which are in varying degree characteristic of the Gang of Eight’s overall approach. We would not be surprised if Senator Graham also promised that this bill would relieve lumbago and get rid of hard-to-clean grass stains.”
This week, Erick Erickson, of RedState, called the plan “unworkable” and accused Rubio’s staff, Grover Norquist and other unnamed advocates of immigration reform on the right of “attacking other conservatives who disagree with them as racists, slavery supporters, bigots, haters, baby killers, un-Christian, etc.” The targets he named were the Heritage Foundation and its president, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.
As GOP Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGraham, Cruz proposal to defund the U.N. is misguided Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power Dissenting nominees give hope to GOP skeptics of Trump MORE (Texas) has joined the fight against the bill, Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Sanders, Dems defend ObamaCare at Michigan rally Paul: Medicaid expansion 'the big question' MORE, (R-Ky.), who had supported reform, stated this week that the Boston attacks should slow the process. “We should not proceed until we understand the specific failures of our immigration system,” Paul wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Ryan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare Congress has a mandate to repeal ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.). And of course, like Rubio, both Cruz and Paul are considered potential candidates for president in 2016.
If reformers thought this week was bad, just wait until an expected report on the cost of amnesty to taxpayers is released by DeMint and the Heritage Foundation.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.