‘Self-deportation’ can’t be rebranded

Updated
 
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
Associated Press

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on “Meet the Press” last weekend and said something interesting about the Republican Party and its approach to immigration policy.

“[T]he politics of self-deportation are behind us,” Graham said. “Mitt Romney is a good man. He ran in many ways a good campaign, but it was an impractical solution, quite frankly. It was offensive. Every corner of the Republican Party from libertarians, the RNC, House Republicans and the rank and file Republican Party member is now understanding there has to be an earned pathway to citizenship.”

For those hoping to see comprehensive immigration reform this year, it was a heartening sentiment. It was also mistaken – the politics of self-deportation are still at the core of many GOP contingents.

A pocket of conservatives is lashing out privately and publicly against broad immigration reform and could seriously complicate any momentum for a House deal. […]

Some in the party want to solve the problem much the same way that Mitt Romney did in 2012.

[Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California] said: “You make sure that people who are here illegally do not get jobs, and they don’t get benefits and they will go home. It’s called attrition. I don’t happen to believe in deportation. If you make sure they don’t get jobs and they don’t get benefits, I mean Mitt [Romney] called it self-deportation, but it’s not; it’s just attrition. They’ll go home on their own.”

What I love about this quote is its amazing effort to try to rebrand “self-deportation,” as if the meaning of the phrase can change if the explanation is worded slightly differently. For Rohrabacher, he doesn’t want mass deportation from the government; he just wants to create an environment in which undocumented immigrants’ lives are made so miserable, they’ll “go home on their own.”

Rohrabacher says, however, this is “not” self-deportation, which it obviously is. In fact, he’s describing the policy precisely.

“[T]he politics of self-deportation are behind us”? We should be so lucky.

If I had to guess, I’d say the odds of the Senate approving an immigration bill are quite good – it’s not a sure thing, but the smart money says a reform bill will pass the upper chamber. But whether the radicalized House Republican majority will tolerate a popular, bipartisan bill is a much tougher question.

Dana Rohrabacher and Self Deportation

'Self-deportation' can't be rebranded

Updated