People show their support during a rally for comprehensive immigration reform on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., April 10, 2013.
Michael Reynolds/EPA

GOP leaders throw support to anti-immigration measures

Updated
Just two weeks ago, House Republicans ignored their own leaders and rejected their own party’s border bill. Left with no choice, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told far-right extremists they could craft their own legislation and the chamber would approve it, no matter what.
 
The result wasn’t pretty. Right-wing lawmakers largely ignored the humanitarian crisis the bill was originally intended to address, and instead targeted President Obama’s DACA. The top Republican goal became the deportation of Dream Act kids.
 
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said the Republican Party’s policy could effectively be described in three words: “Deport ‘em all.”
 
The proposals were, by any fair measure, a joke that included far-right provisions that GOP leaders had themselves rejected a few days prior. No one, including proponents, expected the House package to actually go anywhere legislatively. But as Sahil Kapur reported, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has decided to read from the right-wing script.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for a Senate vote on House-passed GOP legislation to end deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants and strip the president’s authority to grant it to anyone else.
 
“The President seems to have forgotten that he does not possess the authority to re-write our immigration laws and that, on the contrary, the Constitution requires that he take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement first reported by the conservative website Breitbart.com and provided to TPM. “The House has passed two bills to address the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, and the Senate should vote on them. That’s why I began the process of putting them on the Senate’s legislative calendar shortly before the current recess, and I urge Majority Leader [Harry] Reid to schedule a vote on these bills as soon as the Senate returns.”
I’m guessing the senior senator from Kentucky hasn’t read the report about how Obama is using his powers the same way Republican presidents have.
 
Remember, McConnell isn’t focusing on migrant children who recently fled Central America; he wants action on measures to deport Dream Act kids. We’re talking about youngsters who’ve been here for years and who see the United States as the only home they’ve ever known.
 
As of yesterday, what’s the difference between McConnell’s position and that of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)? There isn’t a difference. Greg Sargent calls it the party of “maximum deportations,” and the Senate’s top GOP leader is now fully on board.
 
Far from taking party elders’ advice last year to warm up to comprehensive immigration reform, Republican presidential hopefuls are moving in the opposite direction, already competing over who would be more aggressive at cracking down on illegal immigration.
 
A dramatic new ad by Rick Perry foreshadows the ugly fight ahead. It suggests that gang members and terrorists are setting up shop in the United States due to weak border enforcement. The Texas governor, widely seen as a 2016 candidate, torches President Barack Obama for ignoring his warnings about the influx of migrant children and exhibiting a “failure of leadership.”
The video looks like a campaign ad, but it’s not, at least not in a literal sense since Perry isn’t currently a candidate for any public office. Rather, the campaign-style ad is basically just Perry’s political team creating a video to declare (a) how much he’s against immigration; and (b) how much he’s against President Obama.
 
In 2011, Perry’s “have a heart” comments drew significant fire from the GOP’s right-wing base. He’s apparently decided to move in a very different direction in advance of his 2016 campaign.
 
Taken together, though, what McConnell, Perry, and other Republican leaders have done is position the GOP as a fiercely anti-immigration party, which is pretty much the opposite of what party strategists and pollsters told them would be smart.
 
As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, after the 2012 elections, the party endorsed an “autopsy” commissioned by the Republican National Committee that said the party had to take a more constructive approach to immigration or pay the penalty of a massive demographic shift.
 
Confronted with the possibility of becoming the most aggressively anti-immigrant party Americans have seen in a generation, leading Republicans have embraced the label with shocking enthusiasm.
 
When President Obama announces his own executive actions on immigration, be sure to keep this in mind.
 

Dream Act, Immigration Policy, Immigration Reform, Mitch McConnell and Rick Perry

GOP leaders throw support to anti-immigration measures

Updated