WASHINGTON— The immigration protesters advanced on the news conference, poking signs that read “Do Not Reward Criminals” and “No Amnesty!” over the heads of Republicans who had just finished speaking about finding a civilized tone in the year’s most difficult debate.
As the politicians ducked out of camera range, one Hispanic pastor who had appeared with them, Becky Keenan, instead turned toward the protesters and took a photo. They began to yell at her. Keenan ignored them, quietly explaining why House Speaker John Boehner is bothering to pursue agreement on the headache that is immigration reform.
“If the Republican Party wants to regain the Hispanic vote, which they so miserably lost in the last election, they’re going to have to let Latinos know they are wanted,” Keenan, pastor of Gulf Meadows Church in Houston, said after the hubbub Wednesday had subsided. “They are going to have to deal with immigration reform.”
Six months after Hispanics overwhelmingly helped return President Barack Obama to office and control of the Senate to Democrats, Boehner is helping lead the GOP effort to bite into that base of support — or at least stop alienating a demographic that accounts for 17 percent of the nation. That means getting a new policy on immigration, perhaps the most delicate political dance of Boehner’s career.
Immigration separates Republicans from one another as much if not more than it separates them from Democrats. They don’t trust Boehner to hew to the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert, though it was more a goal than a set rule. During the eight years he ran the House, he had a policy of allowing votes only on those bills that were supported by a majority of Republican members.
Read More at OfficialWire . By Laurie Kellman.