In the aftermath of the Iowa Republican presidential primary, the media are outdoing themselves with speculation over whether the fact that Donald Trump managed to come in behind Senator Ted Cruz by the "huge" margin of some 6,000 votes, and that Senator Marco Rubio came within about 2,000 votes of overtaking Trump for second place has "destroyed" Trump's supposed "aura of invincibility".

While this may or may not make a good story in order to sell newspapers (or gather website clicks), there is a much more important and relevant message coming out of the Iowa primary for advocates of immigration reform. This is that all of the top three candidates have adopted an ultra-hard line on immigration that is not only opposed to any form of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, but also favors reducing legal immigration levels.

One has to go far down the list of Republican candidates who finished in the single percentage digits, all the way down to John Kasich, or even to ones who have already dropped out of the presidential race, such as Lindsey Graham, to find anyone who supports any kind of immigration reform.

It is true that all three of the top finishers in Iowa have some history of support for immigration. Trump has sponsored over 1,000 mainly Mexican immigrants for legal visas and has also supported immigration reform in the past; Cruz once introduced a bill that would have raised H-1B quotas which he is now trying to spin as only a "poison pill" to derail immigration reform; and Rubio, of course, was one of the authors of the 2012 immigration reform bill which passed the Senate.

But in their present incarnations, all three candidates are outdoing themselves to appeal to a primarily white, fiercely anti-immigrant Republican base. Except, possibly, for Rubio's support (in principle) for more liberal skilled immigration policies (while reducing family immigration, which would have a devastating effect on Latino and Asian communities), the differences between them are mainly ones of detail. The result could very well be to fracture the US electorate along racial and ethnic lines even more than was the case in 2012,

According to the Huffington Post, immigration reform advocates see this as something that could be good news. Huffpost quotes Frank Sharry, founder of the pro-reform group America's Voice, as follows:

"Our theory of winning is that Republicans have to get hurt in yet another general election before we have a chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform...

It creates a huge opportunity for the 2016 election...for Latino and Asian voters to be decisive in a way that makes the RNC autopsy in 2017 like the 2013 report but on steroids,"

Huffpost also quotes Todd Schulte of the pro-reform group as follows:

"...electing someone who favors rounding up and deporting every single undocumented immigrant - is not only incredibly unlikely, but their mere nomination would prove a historical disaster for the [Republican] party..."

Whether using immigration as an issue to divide America even further along racial and ethnic lines, (and in Donald Trump's case, religious lines as well), is something that accords with this country's identity, traditions and ideals as a nation of immigrants based on equal opportunity and justice for all people, is something that we will no doubt have more opportunity to learn about as the 2016 presidential campaign progresses.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas, green cards and US citizenship.

Roger's email address is