In politics, it’s important not to look too far ahead. Things change quickly on the Hill, and what’s here today could be gone tomorrow.
But with that in mind, Barack Obama’s dream of amnesty and citizenship for the millions of people living here illegally is dead. The rule of law has triumphed, if only for a short while.
What makes me so confident? Well, I spoke with members of Congress who attended John Boehner’s Republican conference retreat and the ensuing discussion about immigration policy. They told me that, despite Boehner’s attempt to sway his fellow Republicans into voting for immigration reform, the Speaker of the House failed miserably.
Boehner has been working feverishly to keep the issue alive after facing constant pressure from the hotel, tech, construction, and restaurant industries. They all want to keep their low-wage workers and continue to fatten profits. You see, legalizing millions of illegal immigrants is a much cheaper prospect than raising wages to draw more workers.
And Boehner, ever the compliant politician, would like to keep the dollars that these industries contribute to Republican campaign funds.
But at the party conference, where Boehner planned to surrender to corporate interests, the Speaker instead faced an insurrection. The rank-and-file members of the GOP caucus were, by most accounts, against even the concept of immigration reform – by a ratio of more than three to one!
Eventually, as the discussion between members droned on, Boehner and his allies saw the writing on the wall. If they did bring an immigration vote to the floor, they’d split their party so deeply that Boehner would be in jeopardy of losing his job as House Speaker. And for Boehner, maintaining power has always been more important than any individual issue.
All told, it’s now extremely unlikely that Boehner will continue pushing for immigration reform this year.
Like Freddy Krueger, It Keeps Coming Back
However, this doesn’t mean that the issue is put to rest.
The potential savings are too great for the corporate titans to forget forever. They want the low-wage workers, and they’ll keep pushing.
Just look at Facebook’s (FB) FWD.us campaign. Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is so desperate for low-wage workers that he’s taken the rhetoric to unhealthy levels, charging that opponents of immigration reform are tied to white supremacy groups and supporters of eugenics.
I guess when you can’t win the argument, it pays to spend millions disparaging your opponents.
At the same time, business interests are charging hard for increased immigration. Just think: Homes to house immigrants must be built. Autos, furniture, and food must be produced for the newcomers. There’s almost no end to the products that could be sold to America’s newest consumers.
Finally, because of the agreement between big business and liberal special interest groups, immigration reform is never far from passage. Between the desire to please the masters in big business and the political impact of giving millions of noncitizens the right to vote, the immigration issue is pretty much impossible to kill.
This commentary originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.