When it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, everything old is new again. All the obstruction and careless rhetoric about not trusting the president flung around by former House speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was picked up by new Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. And just because Ryan says it with such conviction doesn’t make what he says true.
Ryan made his unprompted assertion during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press.” Let’s unpack what Ryan said, shall we?
“The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue, because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law himself.” The speaker is referring to the executive actions the president took a year ago to address some of the festering issues around illegal immigration.
“Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does.” Thanks to “Schoolhouse Rock,” we all know that that’s how it’s supposed to work. In fact, that’s how it did work in 2013 when the bipartisan Gang of Eight (four Republicans and four Democrats) in the Senate cobbled together a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill that passed with an astounding 68 votes. And then the legislation went to the House.
“I think if we reach consensus on something like border enforcement, interior security, that’s one thing. But I do not believe we should advance comprehensive immigration legislation with a president who’s proven himself untrustworthy on this issue.” As noted in the previous paragraph, comprehensive immigration legislation has been sitting in the Republican-controlled House for 29 months. Within said legislation are provisions for border security and interior security that Ryan cares about. So, let’s be clear here. The bill hasn’t gone anywhere because House Republicans simply refuse to “advance comprehensive immigration legislation” gathering dust in their own cloakroom.
In the face of inaction and after plenty of pleading from Obama to act, the president took action himself. Then, rather than advance the Senate bill, the House under Boehner sued Obama and voted to block funding for his immigration orders. Meanwhile, Obama’s immigration actions were stopped by a federal injunction last February until there is resolution of lawsuits filed by 26 states that deem the president’s actions unconstitutional.
So, states have taken the president to court because they think he overstepped his constitutional authority by taking executive action on immigration – an action he took because the House refused to advance a bipartisan bill from the Senate in order to placate a far-right claque that will accept nothing less than zip-locking the border and deporting all illegal immigrants.
This isn’t about trusting the president, Speaker Ryan. This is about Republican leadership that can’t be trusted to do anything to start fixing the problem.
Jonathon Capehart writes for the Washington Post.