Saturday, April 27, 2013

House GOP Poised To Kill Immigration Reform

The national Republican Party realized after the last election that it was going to be very difficult for them to win back the White House (and the Senate) without reaching out to the Hispanic community. More than 70% of Hispanics voted Democratic in the 2012 election, and they compose the fastest growing portion of the electorate (while Whites are a diminishing portion of the electorate) -- a trend that is expected to continue unabated.

Those national GOP leaders thought passing an immigration reform bill (with a path to citizenship for undocumented workers) would be a good way to reach out to Hispanics. And they were right. Immigration reform is an issue that is very important to a large majority of Hispanics, and opposing that issue is a good way to continue to alienate Hispanic voters.

It looked like the Republicans might be on the way to rehabilitating themselves on this issue, as a bipartisan group of senators have agreed on a comprehensive immigration reform bill -- and its beginning to look like that bill might actually pass in the Senate. But for a bill to become law, it must pass both houses of Congress -- and the House Republicans have just signaled they don't want real immigration reform.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has announced that the House will not consider immigration reform in one big reform bill -- but will divide reform up into several small bills. He also refused to assure voters that immigration reform will be passed this year. The first bills to be considered by the House would be on workplace enforcement and a work visa program for temporary workers. That's because these would be popular with the GOP's teabagger base. It would deny permanent jobs to undocumented workers, but still allow employers to import cheap labor.

It also gives the House Republicans an opportunity to kill the "path to citizenship" portion of immigration reform -- which the racist and anti-immigrant base voters of the party don't like. But the Senate says it will not deal with immigration on a piecemeal basis. They want immigration to be dealt with in a comprehensive bill, and say they will not pass the piecemeal bills the House GOP wants. This means there is a good chance that no immigration bill will be passed.

Why the difference between the Senate GOP and the House GOP? Well, the senators must run statewide, which means they have to appeal to a much wider range of voters (including Hispanic voters). But the House GOP members, thanks to their 2010 gerrymandering efforts, only have to run in their safe white districts -- which means they only have to answer to their teabagger base, and not the public at large.

I think the national GOP leaders were serious in their desire to reach out to Hispanic voters. But their teabagger base is not ready for that, and because the base doesn't want to reach out to Hispanics, neither do the members of the House GOP. A political party can only go where their base voters allow them to go -- and too many of the Republican base still holds racist and anti-immigrant values.

This is going to hurt the GOP in state and national elections, which is good news for Democrats.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree a little. I think immigration reform is necessary for the Republicans but not sufficient. And given that the Republicans are at best willing to do immigration reform, I'm not sure it is to their advantage to do anything at all.

    You are, of course, right about their racist base. And that has worked well for them, but as they say: you reap what you sow. And they are reaping a long-term minority party.

    Earlier today, I suggested a three-part bipartisan immigration reform idea:

    1. Turn the US-Mexico border into the Berlin Wall.

    2. Create an anti-worker guest worker program and eliminate the minimum wage.

    3. Provide a 125 year path to citizenship.

    This is a plan that Republicans can back. But perhaps more important, Democrats won't care to stop them. Maybe I'm being overly cynical, however. It's a natural outcome of being a registered Democrat.


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