WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has signaled he may embrace a series of limited changes to the nation’s immigration laws in the coming months, giving advocates for change new hope that 2014 might be the year that a bitterly divided Congress reaches a political compromise to overhaul the sprawling system.
Mr. Boehner has in recent weeks hired Rebecca Tallent, a longtime immigration adviser to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has long backed broad immigration changes. Advocates for an overhaul say the hiring, as well as angry comments by Mr. Boehner critical of Tea Party opposition to the recent budget deal in Congress, indicates that he is serious about revamping the immigration system despite deep reservations from conservative Republicans.
Aides to Mr. Boehner said this week that he was committed to what he calls “step by step” moves to revise immigration laws, which they have declined to specify.
But other House Republicans, who see an immigration overhaul as essential to wooing the Hispanic voters crucial to the party’s fortunes in the 2016 presidential election, said they could move on separate bills that would fast-track legalization for agricultural laborers, increase the number of visas for high-tech workers and provide an opportunity for young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children to become American citizens.
Although the legislation would fall far short of the demands being made by immigration activists, it could provide the beginnings of a deal.
I.e., an even bigger cave-in.
For Mr. Boehner, hiring Ms. Tallent suggests a new commitment to confronting an issue that has long divided the Republican Party. Ms. Tallent is a veteran of more than a decade of congressional immigration battles and fought, ultimately unsuccessfully, for comprehensive overhauls of the immigration system in 2003 and 2007.
I don't recall 2003. I recall playing some small role in beating back big offensives in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2013. Back during the 2001 battle, I made the hopeful suggestion, based on an analogy to military history, that defeating an immigration offensive now would allow the good guys to go on the offensive soon. For example, in March 1918 the German army in France went on the offensive to take Paris before the American army arrived in bulk. But they were stopped short and the effort exhausted them so badly that Entente offensive later in the year was far more successful than expected, winning a war that had been assumed would not be determined until the big campaigns of 1919 at earliest.
But I was wrong. It doesn't work like that because there isn't much cost to losing an offensive. Look at it from, say, Rebecca Tallent's perspective: either she wins this year, which would be good, or she fails and gets promoted to an even better job doing the same thing all over again, which is good, too. It's not a war, it's a career.
Although Mr. Boehner’s aides say she was brought on to carry out his views and not her own, advocates of immigration change say the only reason for Mr. Boehner to have hired Ms. Tallent is his desire to make a deal this year. ...
The most likely legislative approach, according to lawmakers, White House officials and activists, is a push to pass legislation in the House by May or June — after most Republican lawmakers are through with their primary campaigns — with the goal of reaching a compromise that Mr. Obama could sign before the 2014 midterm election campaigns intensify next fall. ...
"This guy is our leader?" wonders Arnold Palmer.
If a comprehensive overhaul is not completed by summer, strategists say they could make another push during a lame-duck session at the end of the year, after the November elections. If it did not happen then, lawmakers could wait until 2015, although advocates would have to start again in the Senate because the legislation would expire at the end of 2014. ...
In other words, many Republican candidates are planning to lie to voters and then, right after the primary or general election, stab them in the back. You might think this sounds like a blatant conspiracy, but that shows you are just some conspiracy theorist wacko.
House Republicans have a retreat scheduled this month, and are unlikely to make any strategic decisions about immigration before then. Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chief House negotiator on the budget compromise, is expected to play a large, if behind-the-scenes, role.
“I would bet money that it will be done before the presidential election of 2016, but I think there’s a very good chance it will get done considerably sooner than that — in 2014,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and one of the architects of the immigration legislation in the Senate [Sen. Schumer pictured here discussing details of their mutual immigration bill with Republican Senators Rubio, Graham, and McCain.)
The advocates say they are in no mood to wait for something else to interfere. “I’m going to be pushing hard to try to get it done early next year,” said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who is a proponent of an immigration overhaul. “The earlier the better, I think.” [See photo of Rep. Diaz-Balart here.]