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Who Should Be Faulted for the Lack of Immigration Reform?

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) criticized President Obama and the Democrats this afternoon for failing to pass immigration reform, which Obama said he would take up in his first year. He’s right about that – but it’s an odd statement, considering Cornyn’s own party was the one to block it.

Cornyn argued immigration “hasn’t been a priority” for Obama and said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was wrong to wait until yesterday to introduce his comprehensive immigration reform bill:

“I think this kind of serious subject matter bears much more consideration than simply to be filed the day we adjourn or to be taken up in a lame duck session…

Plenty of immigrants rights advocates make the same argument, arguing Obama and Democrats in Congress put immigration reform on the back burner while pushing for other legislation.

But Cornyn is part of the reason for these failures, making his statements fairly disingenuous. Congress could not pass reform efforts without Republican backers, and Obama cannot sign laws without Congress. Once Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) removed his support from Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) comprehensive immigration reform effort this spring, finding Republican backers for immigration bills became next to impossible.

Even the DREAM Act, which had bipartisan support at other periods since its 2001 introduction, was pushed out when Republicans voted to filibuster the defense authorization bill set to host it as an amendment.

Adam Serwer sums it up best in a post titled “Republican Strategy on Immigration”:

Step one: Obstruct all efforts at immigration reform, accuse the president of holding the border “hostage” even as he deports a record number of illegal immigrants.

Step two: Remind everyone how the president broke his promise to pass immigration reform.

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