How the Failure of Immigration Reform Might Pave the Way for Filibuster Reform

Ed Kilgore makes a point today about immigration reform and “enforcement first” that deserves more attention:

What hasn’t much been discussed is the fact that when it comes to border enforcement, the Obama administration has actually been very, very hawkish, precisely because it was considered necessary to make it possible for Republicans to support comprehensive reform.

….This deportation record has gotten extensive coverage in Spanish-language media, and was hardly a secret to anyone….There’s a [] lesson for the White House in this story: taking actions thought to be popular with conservatives in order to create good will among congressional Republicans is rarely a good idea. They’ll either ignore the evidence or come up with some other reason to oppose the hated Obama.

Yep. Immigration from Mexico is way down from its peak, and that’s partly due to the lousy economy. But it’s also due to Obama’s dedication to continuing—and even beefing up—the tougher immigration enforcement started under President Bush: more border patrol officers, continued building of the fence, harsh deportation policies, and continued improvement of the E-Verify program that employers use to check the legal status of new hires. All of these things have annoyed liberals (or worse) and, as Ed says, were done primarily to set up conditions that would allow Republicans to support immigration reform. But it sure looks as if it didn’t do any good.

This is just another example of why Harry Reid might actually go through with filibuster reform this year: there’s simply nothing that Democrats can do anymore to get even the most modest cooperation from Republicans. The GOP is now so uniformly obstructionist that, paradoxically, they have no political leverage left. Ezra Klein provides the play-by-play:

Consider the record. Republicans abandoned a budget deal in favor of the mess that is sequestration. Gun control failed. Student loan rates doubled. Republicans are promising another debt-ceiling showdown. And now immigration looks unlikely to make it through the House. What exactly is left that Democrats want to get done and Republicans are likely to work with them to finish?

Good question. Earlier this year there was lots of talk about Obama’s need to reach out and do more schmoozing, or perhaps his need to make sure that Republicans actually knew what he was offering. That stuff can’t hurt, but it sure doesn’t look like it did any good, either. The modern Republican Party just doesn’t care. Their base judges them almost solely by their opposition to whatever Obama wants, so that’s what they give them. The nuclear option and its cousins are about all that Obama and the Democratic Party have left.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.