Don’t Expect 2014 to Bring Any Meaningful Change in Immigration Reform

boehner-frownIf you’re taking stock of the year just past, you would have to say 2013 left something to be desired. The Republican Party, trying for years to derail our first black president, finally succeeded in shutting down the government. The year ended with cries for his impeachment, assassination, and citizen’s arrest. Things are not likely to get better in 2014.

What just happened, New Years Day, is an artificial break in time that has no effect on the forces at play in our nation. Haters are still going to hate, and the Republican Party has demonstrated its hatred not only of the U.S. Constitution but of the United States and all Americans who do not fit into their neat little Evangelical white male box.

News outlets are talking about John Boehner and immigration reform. Don’t kid yourself. In The New York Times we find that Boehner’s hints provide “new hope that 2014 might be the year that a bitterly divided Congress reaches a political compromise to overhaul the sprawling system.” You do remember what has happened each and every time Boehner has tried to do anything, right? The extremists yank the carpet out from beneath him. Boehner cries, blah, blah, blah.

When will the mainstream media learn that what Boehner wants, or says he wants, means nothing at all? And we shouldn’t assume that “‘step by step’ moves to revise immigration laws” mean steps in the right direction, or big enough steps to make a difference. Boehner, for his part, seems anxious to throw water on the very idea of meaningful reform. As usual, failing to understand what Americans want (as the year closed, a majority of Americans wanted immigration reform), he told reporters,

The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be. The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time. I think doing so will give the American people confidence that we’re dealing with these issues in a thoughtful way and a deliberative way.

Thoughtful and deliberate are conservative buzzwords for don’t expect change any time soon. This is the party of the status quo, after all, and lately, American conservatism has demonstrated a desire to not only block change but to actually turn the clock back. At times it has seem they want not only to return the 1950s but to rollback the European Enlightenment itself on the way to the 13th century.

Ask yourselves this: in what way will allowing more “icky brown people” into the country going to improve election prospects for Republican candidates who preach an America for white Evangelical males? Remember, it was a Republican, Paul Broun, who said in August that “these people” (his term for icky brown people, who are to be contrasted with “freedom loving Americans” – i.e. white Evangelicals) will “vote for the Democrats and keep Democrats in power for perpetuity.”

Louie Gohmert’s answer to the immigration problem is not to figure out some way to appeal to Latinos but to reject legislation reform. He thinks Republican tough love – assimilate and learn English or else – will stir warm and fuzzy feelings of love and devotion in immigrants. Whether he really believes this or not, he and Broun are far from alone in rejecting reform.

You need look no further than Broun and Gohmert and the evidence of the past two years to see what “thoughtful” and “deliberate” really mean as we head toward the 2014 midterms, but you can, if you want to consider the racist Republican base and people like William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) who warns that if the Tea Party can’t stop immigrant “invasion” there will be violent revolution. That is the measure of how much the Republican base rejects the idea of icky brown people living next to them as equals.

If you need an example of how “real Americans” feel about their cherished franchise, look back to Jim Crow. Look, this is the party of xenophobia after all, where immigration reform necessitates an embrace of the “demonization” of white Christian males in the same way that “Happy Holidays” = a War on Christmas. Expect more rhetoric than substance. After all, as Bud Kennedy wrote in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the last day of the last year, “Some Republicans still want to turn back.”

The New York Times and others might want to realize that reform can as easily mean a step backward as a step forward. They certainly seem to forget who we are dealing with. It was Boehner’s party, after all, which refused to vote on immigration reform in 2013 “because Obama was mean to them.”

Do you really think they’re going to suddenly feel Obama is not being mean to them? In what way is this same group of white males going to have a mass change of heart about the “icky brown people” who threaten their comfortable franchise?

Meaningful change in 2014? More than likely, what 2014 will bring is John Boehner, assuming he backs any reform at all, falling flat on his face, and how is that a change, let alone meaningful change? It’s not even news.

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