Immigration Reality

Monday, 23 June 2014 16:33

Why CIR is Failing in the 113th Congress

This look at reality won't be popular with many supporters of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).  However as the sage Aivar Lejins said: "A psychologically healthy person sees the world as it is, not as she wishes it were."


In the spring of 2013 after President Obama's re-election the Senate passed a CIR bill with some Republican support.

Unfortunately it turns out the Senate bill was toxic in the House.

  • The Republican House was not going to be able to pass a bill that even hinted at a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.
  • The nod at border security was not believable to the Republican base.
  • The "guest workers" for farmers program was not workable.

The politics of both parties had created this situation.

  • Republicans feared the immediate threat of their "Tea Party" wing much more than the long term threat of losing the Hispanic vote.
  • After the Dream Act failed to pass in Congress, Democrats cynically played the Deferred Action (DACA) card during the run up to the 2012 election making CIR even more political than before.

And looming over all of this was the reality that Middle America felt threatened.

  • Low job growth
  • Slow wage growth
  • Multiculturalism
  • "Press One for English"

All contributed to the feeling that more immigration would be bad for the struggling middle class.

So in the next year and a half the House didn't introduce a bill even though they felt the pressure from both inside and outside their party.  And now finally in the last months of the congress, when much gets done, there has been a trifecta of bad news for immigration reform.

  • Eric Cantor, the majority leader of the house was defeated in his primary election by a Tea Party candidate.  At least partly as a result of his tepid support for immigration reform.
  • The reporting of the surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America.  Which many attribute, partially correctly, to President Obama's executive order authorizing DACA.
  • The election of Kevin McCarthy as Majority Leader of the House.  McCarthy a Republican from the Bakersfield, California has been outspoken in his opposition to CIR.

What can supporters of immigration reform do?  Here are some ideas:

  • Get ready for the next Congress.
  • Re-introduce a Dream Act that has constraints that are understandable and limits the Presidents authority.
  • Play small ball.  Work permits, Drivers licenses, More skilled worker visas
  • Focus on the ethics of being fair and kind to our neighbors.