Earlier in the year the White House feigned some interest in immigration reform. But given the busy agenda — financial reform, healthcare, and climate control, to name a few — it seemed unlikely. This week the press secretary threw in the towel:
The White House on Monday acknowledged that immigration reform is unlikely to move in Congress this year. “I can see the president’s desire for it to happen but understanding that currently where we sit the math makes that real difficult,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Immigration reform was never high on the president’s to-do-list — in part because it would entail going up against his Big Labor allies. (Obama, if you recall, helped kill immigration in 2007 by voting for a series of “poison pill” amendments backed by Big Labor.)
So what does the White House do after giving up on an agenda item? Have a meeting with supporters on the issue. Postpone it a few times. And then don’t really publicize it or send out an invite list in advance:
Backers of comprehensive immigration reform are gearing up for their first big meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, although it remains to be seen who will be attending and what will come of the bipartisan huddle. Obama is hosting a small group of House and Senate lawmakers to begin discussions on the issue. Like Congressional leaders, Obama has signaled a desire to address the politically volatile issue but has given little detail on when or how to do so. The meeting has been postponed twice over the past several weeks, causing some stakeholders to worry about Obama’s will to advance the issue anytime soon. Details of the meeting remain hazy. Key lawmakers still don’t know if they are invited or what to expect from the gathering.
“Was I invited?” Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairman Mike Honda (D-Calif.) asked.
[. . .]
Since the votes are not there, Gibbs said, there must be more dialogue between people with competing interests. “Keep in mind that there will be people at the White House next week that don’t agree with where the president and others are,” he said.
There is always next year, right? In an election year!? No, I think proponents of immigration reform can join a growing list — the ACLU, fiscal conservatives, Israel supporters, and gays — who were led down the garden path by a lot of happy talk from candidate Obama who told them he took their agenda seriously. President Obama has other priorities.