It's easy to forget now, but it was just under a year ago that House Republican leaders presented their principles for immigration reform to their members, in the hope that the one-page document would lead, finally, to a bill the party could support. The entreaty failed, succumbing to election-year fears and a deep distrust of President Obama by rank-and-file members. But the mere release of the principles was significant in putting the historically conservative House leadership on record, for the first time, supporting legal status for undocumented immigrants and even citizenship for many of the so-called Dreamer children.
By Wednesday, however, House Republicans had done, in the description of Representative Luis Gutierrez, an about-face on immigration. In a series of votes on a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security, the GOP majority moved to block all funding for the president's executive actions on immigration. Going even further, Republicans voted to stop Obama's three-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, effectively calling for the deportation of kids brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
"What happened to that principle? You just gave it up?" Gutierrez, the Democratic reform advocate, asked in a floor speech. "It doesn’t mean anything to you anymore? You don’t care about children?" Democrats also assailed the GOP for making the immigration fight on a security bill just a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris.