Update, November 21, 6:07 pm:

Politico's Seung Min Kim reports that House Speaker John Boehner, (who has been doing everything in his power to kill immigration reform) has announced yet again that reform is not dead: She quotes Boehner as follows:

"I believe the Congress needs to deal with this...Our committees are continuing to do their work. There are a lot of private conversations that are underway to try to figure out how we best move on a common sense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue. Because it is a very important issue."

Not important enough, however, to consider taking up any proposal that would deal with the heart of reform, i.e legalizing 11 million Latino, black and Asian immigrants, or even discussing the Senate's CIR bill, which includes legalization.

See, John Boehner: Immigration work not dead, November 21


However, as long as Boehner says so, there will always be at least a ray of hope that Horace's line which I am so fond of repeating, Non omnis moriar ("I will not completely die"), may still apply to immigration reform.

Personally, given Boehner's and his fellow House Republicans' record of non-performance to date, I am not holding my breath. Boehner's statements about "private conversations that are under way" makes me think of a patient on life support in the ICU surrounded by doctors who are debating whether or not to save him - piece by piece, of course.

The following is my original post:

Ever since Speaker John Boehner announced last summer that the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, including legalization and an eventual pathway to citizenship for 11 million mainly Latino immigrants, was Dead On Arrival in the House, reform optimists have been out in full force with their rose-colored explanations of why reform is not only alive and well, but is arriving soon.

In August, when Boehner sent the House into recess instead of taking up reform, the spin was that the House would take up reform in September, because the anti-immigrant side was "quieter" during the recess than pro-immigrant groups.

Then, when nothing happened in September and the Tea Party shut down the government in October and almost blew up the world's economy, the line was that when the government was temporarily reopened and the debt ceiling was raised for a few more short months, the Tea Party and its right wing Republican allies had been so bruised by that setback that immigration reform would now have smooth sailing, despite warnings that Boehner had no plans to take up reform before the end of this year.

Instead, reform ran into a shipwreck on November 13, when Boehner made official what we all knew anyway, namely that the House would not go to conference with the Senate on its CIR bill. But not to worry, we are told - the House is still working on reform piecemeal, instead of in one big package. What is wrong with that?

And if there is "not enough time" in the legislative calendar to take up reform this year, well, there is always 2014. Something as big as reform takes time, does it not?

I would agree with that last statement. Passing immigration reform does take time. Right wing anti-immigrant bigots first killed reform in the Senate in 2007 (in this century).

That was six years ago. But time does not automatically heal all wounds, when it comes to immigration. It only leads to deporting over a million more people, as long as the immigrant-haters have enough political power.

And that is the crux (or should I say "Cruz"?) of the matter. At least in John Boehner's calculus, the Tea Party and its allies from gerrymandered white-dominated Congressional districts control the House, and the future of his speakership. This is why their "piecemeal" reform bills (so far as we know) are enforcement heavy and reform lite, if at all.

This is also why none of the Republican proposals that are said to be under consideration in House committees (but not scheduled for a vote) deal with the heart of CIR, namely legalization for 11 million brown people - I do not even mention citizenship, because some CIR supporters appear to be willing to throw even that under the bus.

Granted, as a process, piecemeal is fine in theory. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) one of the leaders on CIR, has said so. President Obama has said so. But when one looks at the substance of the House's "piecemeal" bills to date, the whole argument collapses.

There is little or nothing in any of them that can truly be called reform. Senator Schumer and President Obama, ostensibly, are trying to facilitate a dialogue over reform with the House. In reality, they may only be calling Boehner's bluff.

Where does that leave reform for 2014? Not with very good prospects. Early next year, there will be more budget and debt ceiling battles.

These may be more destructive than the ones in October, because, this time, the Republicans really smell blood in the water over ACA, while it is the Democrats who are having problems keeping their unity on this issue.

Then, there is a little detail known as a Congressional election next year, which will without question divert time and focus away from immigration reform. But lack of legislative time or focus may not be the biggest obstacle to reform in 2014.

There is a good argument to be made that the Republicans, emboldened by all the media hype over the ACA website failure (to be sure, a better issue for the GOP to demagogue than Benghazi), are in a better position to hold on to the House and take over the Senate next year than anyone could have imagined, despite the hits that the Republicans took over the shutdown and are taking (especially among Latino voters) for killing immigration reform.

From their point of view, why should they do anything about reform before the 2014 election, when they may be in a better position to carry out its final burial and impose their old, familiar, enforcement only, deport 'em all agenda on the entire country in 2015?

This is why we should be very cautious about predicting any movement on immigration reform in 2014. Happy New Year!