House Republicans must be quaking in their shoes after U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue’s immigration reform ultimatum. Unless they notice the Chamber have already endorsed Republicans who oppose immigration reform…. (More)

Chamber of Commerce to GOP: Pass Immigration Reform or … We’ll Endorse You Anyway

Maybe my dictionary is incomplete. I have the nutshell edition, after all. But I looked up ultimatum and found “a final threat.” I also found out the plural is either ultimatums or ultimata, which strikes me as odd. If an ultimatum is a final threat, can there be more than one? But I digress.

Regardless, here’s the Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Donohue on House Republicans and immigration reform:

If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016. Think about that. Think about who the voters are. I just did that to get everybody’s attention.

Politico’s Kevin Robillard characterized that as a “joke,” so I’ll pause while you laugh….

Welcome back. As Reason’s A. Barton Hinkle notes, the right’s stance on immigration reform stands at odds with their so-called principles:

[Eric Cantor’s primary challenger David] Brat should know better. First, Cantor opposes blanket amnesty. Second, Brat – who has a Ph.D. in economics and who teaches it at Randolph-Macon College – does not seem the sort to support imposing tariffs and quotas on the cross-border trade in goods. No doubt he could explain at great length why such artificial restrictions hurt the economy. But the laws of economics apparently do not apply to labor – at least not when you’re running in a Republican primary.

Brat has a lot of company in the GOP base, which is full of voices denouncing amnesty. Amnesty, apparently, means anything short of mass deportation. To immigration hawks who share such a Brattitude, even a path to citizenship that involved paying thousands of dollars in fines and fees, and a decade long provisional legal status without access to any federal benefits, is far too lenient. Round ’em up and ship ’em out.

Hinkle dismisses Republicans’ claim that reform would encourage still more immigration by arguing that immigration is good for the U.S. economy. He also rejects the GOP’s argument that immigration will boost Democratic voters, saying Republicans have cause-and-effect reversed. Immigrants vote for Democrats, he claims, because Republicans oppose immigration.

He’s partly right. Republicans’ opposition to immigration is obviously one reason immigrants lean toward Democrats. The deeper reason is that many immigrants come from less individualistic cultures and favor a larger role for government. Simply passing immigration reform will not overcome the right wing’s You’re On Your Own worldview.

And as Outside the Beltway’s Doug Mataconis notes, Hinkle leaves out a key driver in conservative opposition to immigration reform:

Unstated in Hinkle’s list, of course, is the issue of race and ethnicity, which has been at the root of much opposition to immigration throughout American history. Many have hypothesized that if the illegal immigrants residing in the United States were from Europe instead of predominantly Mexico and Central America, that many on the right wouldn’t be quite so opposed to immigration reform. Unfortunately, I do think that there is some element of truth in that. In the end, though, I think that their opposition to changing our immigration laws and ending the absurd manner in which 11 million people are left to live in the shadows is rooted in the same “I’ve got mine, you get yours” attitude that has typified opposition to immigration in general throughout American history.

Not astonishingly, Speaker John Boehner blames President Obama for House Republicans’ unwillingness to act:

But none of that will happen, Boehner reiterated, until President Obama builds back trust with Republicans in Congress.

And in that respect, little has changed in the months since the Speaker released a set of policy principles to his conference only to have his members resist his push to move forward with actual immigration legislation.

“We’re at a point where my colleagues don’t trust that the president will implement the law the way we would see it passed,” Boehner said Monday. “So I’ve put the ball back in the president’s court. He’s going to do something to demonstrate some level of trustworthiness.”

But if that’s the GOP’s problem then there’s an easy solution, as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted in February:

Let’s enact the law this year, but simply not let it actually start until 2017, after President Obama’s term is over. Now I think the rap against him that he won’t enforce the law is false – he’s deported more people than any other president – but you could actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it.

A comprehensive immigration bill would probably take at least a couple of years to gear up and implement regardless. But House Republicans ignored Sen. Schumer’s idea, because immigration reform is a problem they don’t want to solve unless they get the credit for it:

“One thing I think is pretty clear,” [RNC Chair Reince] Priebus told CNN. “We wouldn’t have been in this place without Republicans being at the table pushing for immigration reform. And I think this conversation would never be happening without Marco Rubio.”

Well sure, except that only 14 Senate Republicans voted for that bill. And the Washington Monthly’s Ed Kilgore notes that the Chamber of Commerce is not exactly punishing the 32 Senate Republicans who opposed it:

Well, Mitch McConnell has been Chamber-endorsed and its working with him hand-in-glove on a bunch of races. McConnell voted against the bill that passed the Senate last year. Another recent Senate endorsee is Jack Kingston of Georgia, whose website declares him dead-set against any kind of “amnesty.”

So there’s your “final threat.” Pass immigration reform, House Republicans … or the Chamber of Commerce will endorse you anyway. Maybe that’s why Politico called the ultimatum a joke.


Good day and good nuts