Despite the primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and hysterical headlines this weed, immigration reform is not dead yet.
About 15 dairy farmers from as many states met with Speaker of the House John Boehner Wednesday, just after news of Cantor’s defeat broke. Boehner’s message to the group: Relax. Immigration reform is still possible, he says, if dairy farmers and other reform proponents push hard for it.
"Dairy farmers need to talk to their legislators directly to get this done," says Laurie Fischer, director of dairy policy for the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association. Fischer was among the group who met with Boehner this week.
"It’s more important than ever that dairy farmers call their legislators. Right now, the only people they are hearing from are people who don’t want to let immigrants into the country," she says.
Despite news reports, Boehner isn’t convinced that Cantor’s defeat came as a result of his stance on immigration. Going into the primary, Cantor was leading by 30 points. While 60,000 people voted in the primary, Cantor's supporters didn't show up because pre-election polls were so heavily in his favor, believes Boehner.
But there’s still a high mountain to climb on passing immigration reform. Not only must legislators be convinced that constituents want reform to happen, Republicans must also be assured that President Obama won’t completely undercut the reform package through executive order.
The other problem is that the issue had no clear deadline. Unlike the farm bill, legislators can keep delaying immigration reform without any real political ramifications.