Immigration Strategery

Why have House Republican leaders in recent days offered interviews about immigration reform — an issue most Americans do not consider an urgent policy matter — and released a short list of “Standards for Immigration Reform” knowing that they would quickly get both barrels from the conservative punditry?

In a recent Gallup poll asking which are the most important issues for the federal government to deal with in the coming year, immigration ranked fifth from the bottom in a list of 19 issues, ahead of only government surveillance of U.S. citizens, abortion, race relations, and policies towards gays and lesbians — and far behind the economy, education, healthcare, entitlement reform, and terrorism.

Another recent poll breaking down the highest priority issues by political party shows that immigration does not make the top 10 for Democrats, while it comes in ninth out of ten for Republicans. In other words — and this jibes with other Gallup analysis, though it does not say much for Americans’ economic rationality — among ordinary Americans those who care most about immigration are more likely to want less of it.

Within hours of the GOP’s reform “standards” coming out, reaction from the usual conservative corners was fast and furious, including angry denunciation of the policy, the politics, or both from Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Bill Kristol, and many others. The Drudge Report, retitling Coulter’s anti-immigrant missive as “Republicans on Suicide Watch,” accompanied the headline with a manipulated image of Boehner wearing a sombrero. Talk about a circular firing squad.

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