Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

GOP left Obama no choice but to act on immigration

By Maria Cardona
updated 2:21 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
President Barack Obama has pledged to act on immigration reform now that Republicans in Congress won't.
President Barack Obama has pledged to act on immigration reform now that Republicans in Congress won't.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria Cardona explains why Republicans forced the president to act on immigration
  • The GOP, she says, threw up excuse after excuse not to pass immigration reform
  • Despite broad support, Speaker Boehner refused to even bring it up for a vote

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee. She is also a CNN Political Commentator. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- This week, the country witnessed one of the most irresponsible acts that we have seen from this Republican Congress, since they deliberately shut down the government less than a year ago.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner informed President Barack Obama that he would not bring a vote on immigration reform to the floor this year.

Whatever excuse Speaker Boehner has for abdicating his responsibility as a national leader, it is not good enough, and he has now given the President ample excuse to act on his own. Which he is now doing.

Maria Cardona
Maria Cardona

Since Republicans in Congress refuse to do their job and allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform this year, Obama, on behalf of the American people, is acting on his own to address this important issue -- for the well-being of our country, our economy and the immigrant community that has contributed so much to our economic growth and prosperity and is suffering greatly from a badly broken system.

A family secret that changed his life

Republicans had a year to either bring the Senate immigration bill to the House floor, or come up with an approach of their own that would deal with the different moving pieces necessary to fix our broken immigration system.

Obama and Democrats were willing to compromise at every corner -- and despite disapproval from advocates and allies -- even held off on pressuring Republicans in hopes that would help create space for reform.

But it didn't work.

Opinion: Like those children, I too fled Central America

No matter what they did, the GOP refused to move. Republicans chose to play politics and spew excuses, rather than honor the will of the majority of the American people and pass such needed reform.

In 2013 they said they didn't have enough time in the legislative calendar to pass reform, but they did have time to shut down the government which cost us $24 billion.

Bypassing Congress on immigration
Immigration; Rand on Civil Rights
Obama to ask Congress for emergency funds

Then, Republican leadership announced they wouldn't move on immigration reform unless the majority of the Republican caucus supported it, even though the votes were there to pass reform and poll after poll showed the majority of the American people support reforming our immigration system. All of this while promising they would bring up legislation.

Earlier this year we were encouraged by Republicans putting out their immigration principles -- which were less than ideal but which the President and Democrats were willing to discuss.

A week later Republicans said they couldn't move on immigration reform because they couldn't trust the President to enforce the law. This is the same President who advocates have hit hard over his record number of deportations and enforcement policies. According to that measure, the GOP should have been thrilled. But it also exposed the rampant hypocritical nature of their excuse not to act.

And then there's the biggest excuse of all: border security first. Never mind that border security is stronger than ever. Never mind that the Senate bill the GOP refused to bring up for a vote in the House would have doubled the amount of agents on the border to 40,000 and provided an extra $38 billion dollars to increase border security.

Republicans have used every excuse in the book to block a bill that would have actually addressed their biggest priorities when it comes to immigration reform -- border security, enforcement, employment verification, high tech visas etc.

But even with that in mind, they'd rather point fingers that get something done. It makes no sense.

So after more than a year of excuses and delays, we at least have clarity on something Americans have suspected all along: The anti-immigrant extremist faction of the GOP is calling the shots, making it impossible for Republicans to deliver any real substantive action on this issue.

Make no mistake, Republicans should understand something very clearly: In killing immigration reform, Speaker Boehner and the GOP are not only killing the hopes of millions of immigrants in this country counting on reform to allow them to fully come out of the shadows and shield them and their families from deportations, but the GOP is in effect committing long-term institutional political suicide and saying "adios" to any chance of the GOP capturing the White House in 2016.

Even the GOP's self-interest was not enough to motivate them to support and lead on the issue.

It became clear that there is no option left, and that the GOP has been playing us all along as they have no intention to pass reform. Ya basta. No more.

Let's be clear, the President did not want to act alone. He did everything he could to work with Republicans in Congress and he knows that a long term permanent solution has to be legislative, but he also knows that if Congress won't act, he has to.

As Obama himself said, "America cannot wait forever for them to act."

The American people and the immigrant community support reform, and want brave leaders who are willing to fight for them and do the hard work.

The President proved that he's willing to go to bat for immigration reform. He will act because the GOP won't. The country deserves better.

Mr. President, America is behind you on this every step of the way.

Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT