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 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT