When I was a college student back in the latter part of the 1950's, I heard an (apocryphal) story about Eleanor Roosevelt, who was well known for her compassion and efforts to help the less advantaged. (I know I am dating myself.)

According to the story, while Eleanor Roosevelt is visiting a mental institution, a patient comes up to her with a long, pathetic saga about how there is nothing wrong with him, but he was railroaded into the institution by his relatives, and she has to intervene with the governor to get him out. Totally convinced of the man's sad plight, Mrs. Roosevelt promises to speak with the governor to have the inmate released.

The inmate thanks her profusely and walks off. But just as she is about to leave, he suddenly comes up behind her, gives her a swift kick in the rear and says: "Don't forget to tell the governor about me, Mrs. Roosevelt!"

Whenever I read about the way that the House Republicans are dealing with immigration reform, I am reminded of this story. Some immigration reform supporters would like to give the House the benefit of the doubt and imagine that the frosty reception that the Republicans are giving the Senate-passed CIR bill, S.744, is only because of differences over process or style.

The cover story is that the Senate likes big, comprehensive bills, while the House likes to do things piecemeal, one small bill at a time. But somehow the two chambers will eventually agree, and we will have reform. That is the spin.

Maybe House Republicans who say that CIR is dead on arrival are being given a bum rap and we should listen to them with more sympathy, just as Eleanor Roosevelt did in the above story. But whenever reform supporters are tempted to do so, House Republicans are ready with a swift kick.

The latest example is the offer by House Republican leaders such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of a subcommittee dealing with immigration issues, to discuss legalization for children who were brought to the US by their parents without authorization, but not to consider doing the same for their parents. Goodlatte's proposal, also supported by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), is known as the KIDS Act.

See POLITICO, House GOP on separate track for immigrant kids, (Seung Min Kim, July 23) and POLITICO, Don't end my American DREAM, (Cesar Vargas July 24). Here are the links:




House Republicans know that there is no serious chance that splitting children from their parents would be accepted by immigration supporters. This strategy is nothing more than a cynical feint to make it look as if the Democrats will be to blame if immigration reform fails

Immigration advocates are not likely to be fooled by these tactics. Cesar Vargas, director of the DREAM Act coalition, writes in his above POLITICO article:

"It's hard not to see the KIDS Act as an extension of the misleading PR campaign Republicans waged during the 2012 presidential campaign. Last year, the GOP came out with the STARS Act and ARMS Act - inadequate solutions meant as damage control for Mitt Romney's repeated promises to veto the DREAM Act and his calls for people like me to 'self-deport'. The STARS Act, due to a very low age cap, included only a small fraction of those who would have been covered by the much more comprehensive DREAM Act. The ARMS Act was another watered-down DREAM Act that included only those signing on to serve in the US military."

"It's anyone's guess what Speaker Boehner will do next. But what's clear, is that if real, comprehensive immigration reform does not pass the House, it will be because Boehner and the Republicans killed it. This is all that will matter to millions of Latino and Asian voters with friends. family and lovers trapped in our broken yet eminently fixable immigration system."

One kick in the rear was enough for Eleanor Roosevelt. How many more kicks will be needed from inmates of the House Republican caucus asylum before immigration supporters realize where the real obstacle to reform is coming from?