The House Republicans are apparently terrified of voting for immigration reform. Why? A July 30 National Journal Article: Inside Boehner's Strategy to Slow Walk Immigration to the Finish Line argues that the House's slow, piecemeal approach is actually a strategy to help reform's chances, not to kill reform.

Here is the link:

www.nationaljournal.com/congress/inside-boehner-s-strategy-to-slow-walk-immigration-to-the-finish-line-20130730

The NJ article offers this explanation of why the House GOP leadership wants to wait until October before voting on immigration reform:

"Keeping immigration on the back burner helps avoid a recess filled with angry town-hall meetings reminiscent of the heated August 2009 protests where the backlash against health care reform coalesced...

'August was a central part of our discussions. People don't want to go home and get screamed at', a House GOP leadership aide said."

The article also gives another reason for the delay:

"But more than that, Republicans say, the delay in dealing with immigration helps them internally.

After a special conference meeting on immigration July 10, Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy realized there was only enough support to pass tougher border security and maybe, beefed up stateside enforcement before August.

But for Boehner, who by all accounts wants to see some kind of immigration reform pass, that raised serious strategic problems.

First, passing tougher enforcement measures before August would take all the momentum away from other more divisive measures, such as giving 'Dreamers' the children brought to the US illegally, a legal option for staying in the country."

The picture that emerges is of a House Republican caucus so afraid or unwilling to pass any kind of immigration reform that even a tentative measure such as some version of the DREAM Act (probably a scaled-down one, judging from other reports) is considered "divisive".

What are the House Republicans so afraid of? According to the above quote, they are scared of their own, largely white, base. And well they might be. Look at some of the comments posted by NJ readers (who will remain nameless here) at the bottom of the article:

Here's one:

"If it's not OK for a person to break into your house, why is it OK for 12 million people to break into our Country?"


And another:

"I detest these people. Speaking of 'piece meal'. that's exactly how they're tearing this country apart."

A third NJ reader comments:

"Anti-Whites are flooding every country with non-Whites, which will cause White Genocide by violence, interbreeding and integration."

And a fourth:

"Boehner should be tried for high treason, along with all the filth that voted for ceding the USA to Mexico in the Senate and then all of them hung from the highest tree."

Granted, almost any comment about immigration (or any other topic) in the popular media tends to attract more than its fair share of hate responses from right wing nut cases.

But one other comment posted in response to the NJ article sums up perhaps better than anything else why House Republicans are so afraid to go ahead with real immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million people who are in the US without authorization:

"The Republican establishment attempting to shove this down their base's throat is like watching a delusional fool committing suicide. They are vastly underestimating the memory, anger and punishing backlash they'll face from their base."

Immigration reform supporters need to make sure that they are not fighting the wrong battle, just as generals have often been accused of fighting the last war. It is fine to quote statistics, facts and figures showing how much this or that immigrant group, or immigrants in general, will pay taxes, boost the economy and contribute to society. It is also important to make the case for fundamental fairness, humanitarian considerations, family unification and all our other traditional values as a nation of immigrants, not to mention the self-interest of both parties in appealing to America's fast growing number of Latino and Asian voters.

But just as it took a head-on assault on racism against Americans of color to pass the civil right laws a half century ago, it will take the same type of battle against anti-immigrant racism in order to pass immigration reform now.