Monday, April 13, 2009

Immigration Reform: GOP Beware

On top of every other initiative, the economy, health care reform, two wars, etc, the Obama administration is also going to tackle immigration. This year! Reuters reports that Presidents Obama intends to begin the reform as early as May of this year and the plan calls for a "search for a path to legalize the status of millions of illegal immigrants." This sounds a lot like amnesty. The term 'amnesty' has become one of those words that is tossed around the political arena extensively, but no-one really knows what it means. In this context, and for the purpose of my argument, amnesty refers to actions taken by the government to make a large group of illegal immigrants American Citizens without the immigrants participating in the necessary steps to become legal. This is a thorny issue in regard to the GOP because past Republican administrations have attempted versions of amnesty, and it is difficult to determine how the electorate will respond to the action. There has been speculation that the issue of immigration reform is 'good' for Democrats and 'bad' for Republicans. This is a logical argument because Democrats are typically portrayed as having compassion on illegal immigrants and Republicans are seen as racist and as wanting to round-up all the illegals and deport them immediately. The Democrats want to use immigration reform to make them look good and to make the Republicans look bad.

The Democrats want to use immigration reform as a way to strengthen their electorate and strengthen th
eir Hispanic base. Bob Shrum, a Democrat consultant argues my point for me in the following quote he made on Andrea Mitchell’s NBC News program regarding whether or not he thought President Obama would move on immigration reform, “I think they're going to move on immigration. I hope the Republicans fulminate against it because they'll get to the point where they won't get a single Hispanic vote. Go ahead and make my decade, turn Texas into a Democratic state.” The Democrats want to move on immigration in an effort to “dare” the Republicans to take a stance on the issue that would isolate the Hispanic vote and make the election of Democrats that much easier. The GOP must approach this issue delicately. If GOP leaders do not take a stance for tough border control, they will isolate the GOP base and they may suffer at the polls. If they do take a strong stance on border security and illegal workers, the GOP will isolate the Hispanic vote, and a Republican candidate cannot win without the Hispanic vote. The GOP needs to demonstrate that they have compassion for illegal immigrants and those who wish to flea oppressive countries and countries with no economic growth, but that they support legal immigration. The GOP needs to draft a plan that would make the legal entry into the United States more viable, so that the immigrants that enter this country are accounted for and do not pose a threat to the country, in terms of bringing illegal drugs into the country, or in terms of terrorists using our vast border with Mexico to get into the county. The GOP needs to demonstrate that we don’t mind that immigrants find jobs in this country as long as they are properly documented and pay the appropriate taxes, etc. There is a way for Republicans to support strong border control while still appealing to Hispanic voters. I don’t think the GOP is going to lose Texas anytime soon, but I still caution the GOP to approach the issue of immigration reform with extreme caution.


  1. I've noted a couple of recent shifts in the rhetoric of immigration. DHS Secretary Janet Nepolitano's recent testimony before the Senate emphasizes enhanced collaboration with her Mexican counterparts; she discusses the border as a shared territory with shared responsibilities as opposed to a US problem of containment. She also shifts the conversation away from Mexico-to-US human traffic and toward US-to-Mexico weapons traffic--and the associated violence on both sides of the border.

    I don't know how these shifts will affect the US partisan conversation on immigration--and will be curious to see how it plays out. I also have not yet read much about how the downturn in the US economy is going to affect border crossings of the human sort; if there are not jobs, why come?

    Well--I have heard something: my distant Idaho potato-farming relatives wrote this on their holiday card: "Eight workers were deported; 200 applied for the vacancies."

  2. Considering the issue, this is a very relevant article.

    I disagree with you on alienating the Hispanics, though. Those who are legal are not particularly of amnesty - they did what was needed to get their citizenship, why shouldn't others? On the other hand, if ACORN and the Dems are successful in registering non-citizens to vote and they _do_, then indeed - they will vote themselves into citizenship.

  3. Apparently live links cannot be would be a lot easier if they could be!

  4. Is president Obama suggesting to give illegal immigrants citizenship without any fines? If he is considering this plan, then the plan is unfair to all those immigrants that have to pay for their Visas and waited years to enter this country. However, even if the citizenship comes with fines, there will be groups like the ACLU that have already stated that they will pay for these illegal immigrants fines, so their would be basically be no consequence for entering this country illegal. The GOP in their plan should propose a delay time period on citizenship for illegal immigrants. The illegal immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship, but their citizenship application should take a few years to be fulfilled, so they would not have the citizens' right immediately, such as voting. This would be fair for the other immigrants in this country that have to wait in other countries and a few years to become a citizen. This should be one of the consequences of entering this country illegally. Another point, I am Hispanic and I do not believe that it is racist to deport illegal immigrants when the have entered this country illegally!

  5. Hey...! We agree on something! The immigration situation is a mess - there's no doubt. That doesn't mean that we should just give up, though. The length of time and the cost of becoming a citizen should be reasonable - it should not require lawyers to push through citizenship papers. The standards - meaning the idea that we only want "desireable" job training - is unrealistic, in the sense that we have a need for the labor of those who cannot meet those standards. It seems unconscionable to me to make it impossible for a farm worker with no education to become a citizen just because he _has_ no education. It makes it so that illegal immigration is the only way to get citizenship. And it is equally stupid not to enforce deportation on _every_ illegal who breaks the law - especially transgressions that are significantly harmful - like drunk driving. I'd even be willing for us to pay Mexico to imprison them - as long as we checked up on them constantly.
    Thank you for recognizing that deportation of illegal immigrants is not racist..."Mexican" is _not_ a race!