Will GOP turn around on immigration inaction?

05/20/2014 5:36 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Will they or won’t they?

As a hot-button issue and a real cultural necessity, immigration reform has been lingering for years now. A priority of the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans, legislation, of course, has become a victim of political gridlock. At one time earlier this year, though, it seemed as if the GOP would begin to take action, perhaps piecemealing steps in Congress as a way to find some bipartisan common ground.

But that, alas, was only a mirage. House Speaker John Boehner, who has advocated action, was forced recently into a retreat by his colleagues.

Inaction flies in the face of popular support for immigration reform. On Monday, Politico released results of a poll that found 71 percent of likely voters in favor of “sweeping change to immigration laws.” Of the respondents, 64 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of Democrats, and nine of 10 Hispanics support comprehensive reform.

Now it appears even the tea-party right is moving in a similar direction. A poll attributed to a partnership of conservative organizations found 70 percent of its respondents favored comprehensive legislation, including measures that seemed almost unthinkable by those groups before now.

“Seventy-six percent support legislation with improved border security measures and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” according to the conservative Daily Caller, “provided they pay back taxes, penalties, pass criminal background checks and go through standard naturalization education, like basic English and American civics — all of which are measures supported by House Speaker John Boehner, and present in the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed in the Senate last year.”

If that poll and the rhetoric from the likes of Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express can be believed, they portend movement and suggest that the topic can indeed return for debate sometime soon.

“This latest coalition gives further encouragement to House Republicans that they can move ahead on a critical issue with the support of some old and new uber-conservative groups,” writes Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for The Washington Post.

Whether common ground on the issue is real or imagined at the moment is anyone’s guess. But for the sake of those whose lives are in the balance, the debate and the legislative action can’t occur soon enough.

Steve Paul, editorial page columnist: 816-234-4762, paul@kcstar.com; on Twitter: @sbpaul.

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