On February 5, the House Judiciary Committee opened the year's first hearings on immigration reform, as reported in Politico: House GOP: Take piecemeal approach to immigration (February 5).*According to the same report, Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), as well as other House Republicans favor a "piecemeal" approach to reform, rather than a comprehensive approach favored by Democrats and, evidently, the bipartisan Senate Group of Eight.
Goodlatte also suggested, according to Greg Sargent, writing in the Washington Post, as well as other reports, that granting eventual full citizenship to 11 million unauthorized immigrants was just as "extreme" as the idea of deporting them all. At the same time, Lamar Smith, the Texas House Republican who has a long history of opposition to immigration in general, tempered by occasional support for skilled worker immigration, recommended that Congress should pass a bill to help STEM graduates and leave it at that.
Meanwhile, as reported in the February 5*Huffington Post, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, another Virginia Republican, stated that immigration reform should begin with giving legal status, and eventually, citizenship, to DREAMer's, despite having voted against the DREAM Act three years ago. However, according to the same article, Cantor stopped short of supporitng proposals to grant legal status to the entire unauthorized immigrant population.
The Huffpost also quoted House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as having declined during a February 5 press conference to endorse a "pathway to citizenship" for 11 million unauthorized immigrants.*
The above shows that there are significant differences between the House and Senate approaches toward immigration reform so far. But it is not difficult to find a common objective. This is to delay the time when millions of Latino and other brown-skinned immigrants would be able to become US citizens and vote in elections for as long as possible, if not indefinitely.
It is not unreasonable to predict that whatever type of "reform" comes out of Congress now, it may be the last one for a generation. The last major "amnesty", under Ronald Reagan, took place in 1986, almost 30 years ago. Therefore doing reform on a piecemeal basis would be a good strategy for the Republicans, who would be well on their way to extinction without their base of older, more affluent, white male voters.
Based in this strategy, one could start with doing something for DREAMer's now, which almost everyone except a few fringe hard-liners seems to agree on, and maybe throw in a few extra STEM visas too (with labor certification required, of course). This would be an attractive option for the Republicans, particularly if they can get the Democrats to cave by eliminating the green card lottery, which has benefited many people from Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, who are not necessarily among the Republcans' favored ethnic groups.*
Then, in another 25 to 30 years, Congress could take up another piece of the immigration reform puzzle, and so on. That might delay demographic change long enough so that there might still be enough white voters around to elect a few unreconstructed Republicans then.
On the other hand, the Senate Group of Eight approach is to accept comprehensive reform on the surface, but to load it up with all sorts of impossible conditions, such as "complete" border security, or going to the back of a "line" which is either non-existent or is at least a quarter century long, depending on how one defines it.
Either way, Armageddon for the Republicans, which means non-white voters being in the majority, would be postponed, at least for a while. In this regard, Immigration Daily's February 5 editorial which suggests that abolishing family immigration should be under discussion as part of immigration reform, even though well-meant and made for entirely different reasons, would also help to accomplish a long favored Republican goal of reducing the rate of Latino immigration.*
In many respects, the arguments on both sides of the immigration debate about law enforcement, economic advantages or disadvantages, protecting US jobs (especially coming from union-busting Republicans) "fairness", "border security", and alleged "tough conditions" for legalization, etc., are not *without a good deal of posturing, or even hypocrisy. The immigration issue is about demographic change. Any successful reform proposal must begin by recognizing and accepting that plain reality.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.