House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently published an orotund statement predicated on a lie, betting that Hispanic Americans are incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.
According to Boehner, President Obama's recent designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument -- lands with deep historical and archaeological significance to Hispanics and Native Americans -- demonstrated "the president's fondness for unilateral action [that] has created widespread doubt among the American people that he and his administration can be counted on to enforce any law he signs, particularly when it comes to securing our nation's borders and reforming our immigration system."
Now, to be fair, the Boehner-led House is so chaotic that it resembles more a gang of yammering ruffians than a serious legislative body. So there is a possibility, even a small chance, that Boehner doesn't even know what is said in his name through his office's communications office.
Even so, what is the best case scenario? Incompetence instead of deception? Rogue staff? After a litany of objectively dubious statements about immigration reform in the past, it's hard to give Boehner the benefit of the doubt.
As I am sure the Speaker knows, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, the president of the United States can designate national monuments without approval from Congress. The Supreme Court has upheld this power under statute -- twice.
The statute expressly authorizes the president to take the very same unilateral action that Boehner decried. In fact, Congress is only mentioned in the statute as having passed the law. As the text clearly explains, all power is given to the executive.
Boehner's linking of a perfectly legal and appropriate act by the president to Republicans' serial blocking of immigration reform is not only a lie, it's an insult to Hispanic Americans.
Are people seriously expected to believe that the GOP has killed immigration reform over and over again because the president has designated a national monument with particular importance to Hispanics in New Mexico and across the country?
One of the exhausted war horses of the anti-reform Republicans has been "border security." This obsession with the southern border comes in spite of repeated certifications by the Department of Homeland Security that the border is in fact secure.
Further unmasking this obsession as a poor excuse for repeatedly killing immigration reform is the fact that the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last year, which Boehner refuses to bring up for a vote, has appropriated close to $40 billion dollars for further border security measures.
For context, the Navy's new Gerald R. Ford-class of super-carriers clocks-in at some $11 billion a ship.
Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that "[t]his designation will in no way limit our ability to perform our important border security mission, and in fact provides important flexibility as we work to meet this ongoing priority."
It's also curious that this particular national monument has caused such an uproar. Could this be yet another attempt to erase Hispanics' 500-year history on this continent -- a history of contributions that pre-date Plymouth Rock and continues to this day?
If Boehner thinks that this cynical and fantastical re-interpretation of his inability to deliver immigration reform will be seen as truthful and credible by America's fastest-growing group of voters, then he is even more disconnected from electoral reality than he usually seems.
As the song says, "politicians lie and I am not fooled." Hispanics are not fooled.
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