An Immigration Senate

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

Let's be realistic the 100% Democrat government of 2009 to 2011 did not pass CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform), the divided Congress since then did not pass CIR and it is extremely unlikely that CIR will pass now with Republicans majorities in both houses of Congress.

The midterm election is over and the Republicans have won a resounding victory. Taking control of the Senate, gaining seats in the House and winning a few more Governors seats. The question for immigration reform supporters is what next.

Will President Obama live up to his long delayed promise of executive action for the undocumented? It worked for DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals). If he acts it will likely raise a firestorm and will give the opposition a cause to coalesce around. As these elections have shown it is always easier to be united against something that to find common cause for something.

Will the Republicans pass any form of comprehensive immigration reform? Almost certainly not. The anti-immigrant hard right would be too vocal for CIR to happen.

Will the Republicans pass piecemeal immigration related bills? Probably, but not right away. We can expect bills that address selected parts of the immigration puzzle. A guest worker program for agricultural workers, a bigger visa program for technology workers and a bill that spends even more money on border security. President Obama may or may not sign these.

But there is lots that can be done. The Hispanic vote is is going to be too important in the future for immigration issues to be ignored. For example at the state level pulling law enforcement away from the INS is happening. So are fights for drivers licenses and the right to open bank accounts.

Part of Republican opposition to CIR has been the fear that if it passed under the Democrats it would cement the Hispanic vote into the Democrat coalition. Can Republicans get any of the Hispanic vote? In Texas and Florida as much as 40% of Hispanics vote Republican. In New Mexico Susanne Martinez is the Republican Governor. So yes they can.

To make any progress on solving immigration Republicans have to believe that by correcting the status of the currently undocumented they won't create a magnet for a new even larger group of undocumented immigrants in the future and more mundanely that if they create a way for the undocumented to become citizens they won't all become Democrats.