Republican lawmakers who support immigration reform pretend that Obama isn’t involved


Republican politicians who can walk upright tend to recognize that comprehensive immigration reform would be good for their party in the long run — else much of the growing Hispanic population will be even further alienated from the GOP.

But those same relatively reasonable Republican politicians don’t want to be seen as doing the Obama administration’s bidding on the immigration issue. Any such perception will only rile the party’s far-right elements, who hate the president with a passion.

Michael D. Shear has more on this matter HERE:

[W]hile lawmakers from both parties are privately relying on the White House and its agencies to provide technical information to draft scores of amendments to the immigration bill, few Republicans are willing to admit it. Some are so eager to prove that the White House is not pulling the strings that their aides say the administration is not playing any role at all.

“President Obama’s concept of engaging Congress is giving a speech that nobody up here listens to,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who is an important supporter of the immigration legislation. “If passing legislation is like making sausage, then this White House is like a bunch of vegetarians.”

As senators near a final tally on the 867-page bill before the July 4 holiday, immigration supporters acknowledge serious risks in Mr. Obama’s approach: leaving the public advocacy for a major piece of his legacy in the hands of others. If the bill fails to become law, Mr. Obama will be open to criticism from Hispanics that he did not put the weight of his office behind the legislation.

But Mr. Obama has made some careful public efforts, including a speech last week at the White House in which he strongly endorsed the legislation.


Passage of immigration legislation is critical to Mr. Obama’s legacy but could also help Republicans repair their image with Hispanics — a rare confluence of political interests that has stoked optimism among supporters that it will pass the Senate in the next several weeks.

Mr. Obama’s political advisers say they are confident he will get the credit he deserves if the bill passes later this summer, even as those on [George W.] Bush’s old team say an in-your-face approach worked best for them. (Although that immigration bill ultimately failed.)

“There’s nothing like having the White House represented in the negotiations,” Carlos Gutierrez, Mr. Bush’s second commerce secretary and a top immigration adviser, said in an interview. “It saves time. It saves effort. It just makes things more agile, more transparent.”

Mr. Gutierrez and others on Mr. Bush’s team concede that the current situation is very different. In 2007 the Republican White House believed that loudly demonstrating Mr. Bush’s support for the immigration overhaul would be helpful to Republican senators who needed to explain their support back home. This year, Republicans would recoil at such a display from the Democratic president.

“The big thing is getting a primary challenger from the right,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “That’s what really worries Republicans.”

In the meantime, two Republican aides said emphatically that White House officials had not participated at all in the drafting of the bill by the bipartisan group of senators.

But White House and administration officials have been in frequent touch with Republican senators as the lawmakers have to come up with dozens of amendments on tighter border security and other parts of the bill they deem insufficient. White House officials declined to name them.


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