Update: February 26, 6:40 am:

Anyone who wants to follow the story about the House Democrats' plans to introduce a discharge petition to bring their version of the Senate CIR bill, known as H.R. 15, to the floor for a vote, can read Seung Min Kim's February 25 article in POLITICO: Democrats' Immigration Gambit.

No one seriously thinks that this petition would have any chance of success, but, according to Kim's above article, it is being touted as a new way to keep pressure on the House Republicans to keep the immigration reform issue alive.

But the petition may also have its down side. It may raise false expectations that immigration reform could actually happen in the House.

It could also divert public attention away from the president's refusal to expand the use of his broad executive powers over immigration enforcement which the Supreme Court recently recognized in Arizona v US (2012) in order to halt, or at least slow down, the deportations.

This is now the only real immigration reform game in town.

The following is my original post.

An updated February 23 story in The Hill, Obama under pressure to slow illegal immigrant deportations, characterizes the choice before the president as appealing to immigration reform supporters and, especially, Latino voters, on the one hand, and leaving open the hope of negotiating with the Republicans about immigration reform legislation on the other, while fending off GOP attacks against him as an autocrat who refuses to enforce the law.


The Hill writes:

"Marshall Fitz, an immigration expert for the Center for American Progress who has consulted with the White House on Policy, says Obama faces a paradox.

'The more he does, the less likely we are to get legislation, which is the goal of both the White House and those on the outside pushing for an end to deportations' Fitz says. 'Everyone understands that there has to be a legislative solution. But the more he does administratively, the more challenging that legislative attack becomes.'"

The same article goes on to quote Fitz as expressing doubts that administrative action on deportation would help in the 2014 elections:

"'I do think it would generate a lot of excitement among progressives, and would certainly energize the Latino electorate and the Asian electorate, but I don't know if it does enough to change the map.' he said. 'What does the immigrant electorate look like in those purple districts and swing districts? It's hard for me to see that this changes things electorally in advance of 2014 elections.'"

The above is as good a summary as any of the conventional wisdom about the president's options on immigration reform. But what if the conventional wisdom isn't worth the paper it's printed on (to use an ancient metaphor from the distant technological past)?

The Hill
also suggests that the whole idea that the House Republicans could be open to negotiating on immigration reform on any terms and at any time might be nothing more than a pipe dream:

"Obama also needs to make sure that Republican leaders are not simply stringing him along.

While administration officials have said they want to give House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) space to operate on the issue, Democrats worry that the Republicans are stalling until after the midterm elections where they are expected to pick up seats in the Senate."

And exactly how much credit are the Republicans giving Obama for the restraint he has been showing so far in refusing to extend his previous unilateral actions to grant relief from deportation to additional classes of people?

The Hill reports:

"To drive their message home, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have scheduled a hearing Wednesday entitled: 'Enforcing the President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.'" (Emphasis added)

In other words, even as President Obama presides over the deportation of some 2 million people, more than any other administration in American history (as The Hill points out in the same article), the Republicans are still grandstanding with an appeal to white voters premised on the baseless charge that the president "cannot be trusted" to enforce the law, since he has given relief from deportation to a comparatively few brown-skinned immigrants.

How long will President Obama and his supporters continue to play along with the Republican charade that the GOP might be willing, one day, who knows when, to negotiate an immigration reform law, if only the president waits long enough and deports enough non-white people?

When will the President and the Democrats accept the reality that even though there are some Republican leaders of good will on immigration to be sure, the party as a whole has surrendered to the Tea Party white supremacist bigots in its base and is only looking for more pretexts to avoid negotiating on immigration reform under any circumstances?

If Obama and the Democrats continue to play along with this GOP charade by holding off on administrative action, while hoping that one day Godot will actually arrive onstage, they will have only themselves to blame if Latino, Asian and other minority voters stay home in droves this fall, leaving it to anti-immigrant white voters to increase the Republican House majority and elect a Republican Senate.

What kind of immigration reform will we have then?

Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been practicing business and professional immigration law for more than 30 years. He is devoted to helping H-1B, O-1 and EB-1 extraordinary ability, labor certification and marriage-based clients, among others, deal successfully with our complex immigration system His email address is algaselex@gmail.com