As if immigration reform legislation had not already been considerably diluted when it went through the Senate last week, the House of Representatives is getting ready to dissect it so well that the whole process may turn into an autopsy.
Of course, killing any form of legislation that would consent any kind of "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants is precisely what GOP conservative extremists are seeking.
And that's why members of the GOP majority in the House already are dismissing the 68 to 32 Senate vote for the bill and threatening to come up with their own (obviously much more draconian) legislation.
Mind you, the Senate bill already would create a long and difficult pathway to citizenship that is more like an obstacle course for undocumented immigrants.
Most would have to wait at least 13 years before they could even apply for citizenship. The bill already includes border security measures that even its Senate Republican proponents classified as "almost overkill" — with some $30 billion to be spent on 700 miles of additional border fencing, aerial drones and 40,000 additional border agents.
But instead of one comprehensive reform bill, some conservative House members are seeking to pass a series of "enforcement-only" measures separately, before they even consider a path to legalization for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living here.
That would mean that even before any law comes in to protect these people from deportation, additional laws could get them deported. Of course, since Democrats are not likely to go along with a bill that doesn't include that path to citizenship, immigration reform is DOA at the House of Representatives.
Amazingly, this is happening in the year when almost everyone had predicted that immigration reform would finally be realized. After immigration obviously figured in its election loss last November, this was the year when the RNC had pledged to fight for the Latino vote by passing comprehensive immigration reform, the year when they had allegedly received and accepted "a wake-up call" from Latinos, the year when extremist Republicans were supposedly going to restrain their hatred and become more tolerant of immigrants.
But it's not happening!
In fact, what we are likely to see and hear from the Republican-led House is a collection of draconian measures and racist wisecracks that will illustrate how far we still are from real immigration reform.
But can the GOP survive another scorning of Latino voters? Can the GOP leadership afford to be driven by extremists in their party? Is it politically expedient for many House Republicans to continue race-baiting and promoting xenophobia?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes!
While the Democrats keep warning us that such behavior is likely to keep Republicans from getting to the White House (Nancy Pelosi sounds like a broken record), the Republicans keep showing us that they don't care.
It's not winning the presidency that concerns them right now. To many House Republicans, saving their own hides in their own conservative-gerrymandered districts is more important. In fact, many of them come from districts that are geographically carved to be so conservative that, instead of fearing challenges from the left or from pro-immigrant candidates, what they fear are challenges from the extreme right candidates and the billionaire ideologues who support them.
Why would they worry about the Latino vote in districts where that vote is insignificant? Besides, the next presidential election still is more than three years away and primary challenges for the mid-term elections are just around the corner.
Nevertheless, we hear Democrats threatening Republicans with this false ammunition about the presidency. Pelosi said Republicans should follow the Senate lead "if they ever want to win a presidential race." New York Senator Chuck Schumer boldly predicted on a Sunday talk show that House Republicans would be pressured into accepting the Senate bill before the end of this year.
Unfortunately, the Democrats seem more eager to blame Republicans for blocking immigration reform than they are committed to fixing our broken immigration system. They seem content with winning the Latino vote by default, without doing anything to earn it, without leadership we could be proud of.
House Speaker John Boehner already has ruled out taking up the Senate bill and said the House would write its own legislation with a focus on border security. Several other GOP leaders claim there will be no pathway to citizenship. And while the Republicans keep pandering to xenophobes, the Democrats keep counting Latino votes for the 2016 race for president.
Bottom line: Republicans still are having a hard time restraining their hatred of immigrants, and Democrats are still using immigrants only to score political points. It's very sad.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.