October 1, 3:00 pm update:

Politico reports on October 1 that the House is now offering to pass piecemeal funding bills - a few government offices at a time, but leaving out the big agencies that need funding the most. Democrats say they are not interested in this approach. See House GOP to vote on narrow funding bills.

Does this remind anyone of the House's piecemeal bills dealing with immigration reform, which address only the margins of reform and do nothing to advance legalization or eventual citizenship for 11 million immigrants?

Whenever the House Republicans want to stall and do nothing, whether on immigration reform or on reopening the government, they pretend to deal with the issue piecemeal. No one is likely to be fooled.

The following is my original post.

It is quite surprising, to say the least, that there has been almost no comment in the media, as far as I have seen, on the effect that the government shutdown will have on the immigration system.

Of course, it should be business as usual at the USCIS (at least I hope so - I have two green card interviews which I am scheduled to attend this week - in New York and Philadelphia - and several time sensitive USCIS filings/RFE responses to send out), since that agency is funded by (exorbitant) filing fees, not by Congress. But what about people stuck overseas waiting for visas?

How about employers who may not be able to receive LCA 's from the US Department of Labor which are required for H-1B filings, or PERM Labor Certifications needed for their employee's green card cases?

Isn't the entire legal immigration system supposed to work as a contract between the government and immigration stakeholders: "You jump through all these complicated and expensive hoops for us, and then we'll (at least consider) doing something for you"?

But with the shutdown, if the reports I have seen are correct, at least two federal agencies with key roles in the immigration bargain, the Department of Labor and the Department of State, will not be able to keep their commitments to the people they are supposed to serve.

This is not to say that immigrants will be the only people hurt by the GOP right wing lunatic fringe's government shutdown - think of veterans who need VA services, low income people dependent on various government programs, and millions of other Americans who will also be affected by this cruel and cynical political gambit. But this is going beyond our topic.

I have argued in a recent post that the shutdown could be the final nail in the coffin of CIR by diverting congressional - and media - attention away from the entire issue, so that reform can die a quiet death in the House while no one is looking and be buried in an unmarked GOP grave. This is hardly an original thought, and I am certainly not the only person who has raised this possibility.

But there may actually be a silver lining in the shutdown. It might ultimately help the chances of reform by leading to an implosion in the Republican party which could destroy its power, or at least the power of its extreme right wing, to influence the outcome of any issues in the future, including immigration.

We may not just be watching Vesuvius spewing lava and ash in order to bury Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD, (there I go with my classics again) just as the House is erupting with poison pills to try to bury CIR, but we could be watching the GOP's extreme right wing volcano blowing up and destroying itself, as Krakatau did in 1883.

(I want to thank my grandson Jack Levin, a 7-year old volcano buff, for providing inspiration for the above comment.)

Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post in effect says the same thing, when he describes the infighting inside the various factions of the Republican Party. In his September 30 article The tea party's revolt against reality, he states:

"Like many ideological factions, tea-party activists display a special intensity in fighting against the 'near enemy' - other elements in the right that don't share their tactics...

So the Senate Conservatives Fund runs ads against Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), Richard Burr (R-NC) and other solid Senate conservatives for opposing a counterproductive strategy to defund Obamacare. The circle of tea-party purity is drawn so tightly that it excludes Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) and John Cornyn - some of the most reliably conservative members of Congress."
(Emphasis added.)

It is worth noting that three of the "reliably conservative" senators Gerson mentions represent almost the entire spectrum of opinion within the GOP on immigration reform. Jeff Flake is a pro-reform member of the Senate Gang of Eight which drafted CIR; John Cornyn is at best lukewarm on CIR but has been part of the negotiating process in the Senate, and Jeff Sessions, who reportedly has strong ties to anti-immigrant groups, is strongly opposed to any kind of immigration reform.

Yet all three, with their divergent view on immigration, are beyond the Tea Party pale. This is only one indication of how extreme the Tea Party has become, with its potential, if not avowed goal, for tearing the GOP apart.

Gerson also writes:

"Tea-party populism, however, moved quickly beyond this point. We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican "establishment"; this revolt is against anyone who accepts the constraints of political reality...

This is reinforced by the development of an alternative establishment-including talk-radio personalities, a few vocal congressional leaders and organizations such as FreedomWorks and Heritage Action - that creates a self-reinforcing impression of its power to reshape politics (while lacking much real connection to the views of the broader electorate)."

In other words, the battle within the Republican party is not just between its "moderate" and "conservative" wings, but within the right wing itself. The bottom line is that a small but powerful and well-financed group of extreme right ideologues are carrying on a battle against reality that threatens to destroy their own party from within.

Just imagine for a moment, if the entire GOP were to self-destruct - or at least if its strident, anti-immigrant right wing were to do so. Then, without any Republicans - or at least far right ones - left, the road to immigration reform would finally be open.

Wouldn't that be a nice thought?