Conventional political wisdom holds that an election year is not the time for controversial, complex issues. But this is not a conventional political climate. So reading the tea leaves on immigration is more difficult, even as the pressure ratchets up to "do something."
There are lots of elements in play. Neither party is terribly unified right now. The Democrats are fractured over issues like Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline. More murky are issues like energy/global warming/climate change, government regulations, jobs and the economy and foreign affairs. The far left of the party is disappointed not to have seen more progress on climate change, single payer (government) healthcare, an increased minimum wage and more union power.
Those Democrats who have to get elected in districts not populated with left and right coast hard-core liberals are desperate to hold their seats in the face of voter unhappiness with Obamacare, little progress on energy issues, a poor economy and scandals galore.
The Republican establishment has vacillated among trying to figure out how to work with the conservative Tea Party wing of their party, openly denigrating them and quietly trying to undermine them. They are wrestling with questions like how conservative is the mood of the country, how damaged are the Democrats and what are their key vulnerabilities?
As the more disciplined party, and the one with the most to lose, the Democrats have come out swinging in 2014 on issues they felt they could win or issues calculated to make the Republicans look bad. The minimum wage is one of the latter. Income inequality is a more complex concept but is really just another face of class warfare. Neither issue has gained much traction. SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid's increasingly over-the-top posturing could be seen as more strained attempts to sway low information voters to hold the line.
Against this backdrop, consider complications since the last election.
The administration's immigration credibility has been damaged by revelations regarding fudged deportation numbers and the release of convicted criminal illegals onto American streets. Only the most loyal Democrats believe our southern border is secure. Many don't care.
These issues of fudging numbers and mishandling criminal illegals are especially damaging given President Obama's demonstrated willingness to ignore or change statutory elements on his say-so and his prevarications regarding healthcare. It is difficult to pooh-pooh Republicans reluctant to deal with immigration law with such a President in office. Between his disregard for the law and Sen. Reid's willingness to do whatever it takes, they believe any carefully constructed attempt to give some kind of legal status short of citizenship to illegals already here could mean nothing as soon as the ink dries on the president's signature. No one can be confident anything would stay as legally passed by Congress. While conventional logic is that the House is still between the law and revisions, that doesn't hold while President Obama is in office. And beyond 2016, no one knows which party will control the White House or Congress.
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