Comprehensive Immigration Reform - Defined
PART 3: THE REPUBLICANS
Everyone in Washington wants the Hispanic vote. Everyone expects that all or most Hispanics will vote either Democrat or Republican based upon the outcome of comprehensive immigration reform. They’re wrong.
Instead of begging for votes, Democrats and Republicans should consider the history of this subject.
If Hispanics voted based on this issue they would have flocked to the Republicans after the 1986 amnesty a/k/a Simpson-Mazzoli. That bill, signed and championed by President Regan, a Republican, granted more than 2 million aliens the right to become legal permanent residents and ultimately citizens. Ten years later IRAIIRA, signed into law by President Clinton, a Democrat, was a 180-degree turn and established draconian standards for removal and relief and created an underclass of aliens afraid to come out of the shadows. President Clinton seemed to accomplish this without alienating the Hispanic vote from the Democrat party.
Then President Bush and Senator McCain, Republicans, championed an amnesty in the 2000s. The Hispanic vote continued to lean heavily Democrat.
The Democrats on the other hand have done nothing on the subject since 1996. Despite President Obama’s promises during the 2008 campaign to make immigration ‘reform’ his number one priority and despite the Democrat parties almost complete control of government for 2 years, nothing was done. The Democrats were just two senate votes short of passing any legislation they wanted. The president presented no legislation. I do not believe that President Obama could not have convinced Senator Snowe and one other Republican to support his plan but there was no plan, no legislation, and no effort at all, and still the Hispanic vote went Democrat in 2012.
It should be clear by now that the Hispanic vote turns on other issues and that whatever the Republican Party does on this issue they can expect no greater support based upon their embracing some plan now. What those other issues are, are beyond the scope of this article.
On the other hand, the Republicans could make inroads among conservative Democrats by taking an approach that supports jobs for Americans first, Hispanic or not. If their polices are sound, Hispanics as well as others will see it and turn to the Republican Party.
Republicans must learn that people should, but do not, vote on issues. They vote on feelings and the Republican Party has been losing those feel good arguments for several years now. Being nice to immigrants is a feel good issue. Middle class Americans want to feel good even if their largesse results in more competition for jobs for those Americans unemployed.
The Republicans should present a plan and explain to the American public why their alternate plan, whatever it may be, is better for America. If there are two plans on the table a real debate might emerge that can lead America to a better set of ‘reforms’; a set of reforms that is not just a blatant attempt to get votes but a plan that the American public can accept and understand as one that protects American jobs, helps us compete in the world economy, is humane and forgiving when forgiveness is fair, and encourages new waves of immigrants to obey our laws. These reforms might be simple.
Any ‘reform’ must make sense beyond the need of sitting members of congress to insure their reelection.
We need plans from both parties that can explain to the American public that their representatives and senators actually represent them and not some potential future wave of voters. Their jobs require them to serve their constituents and not their own reelection interests. Integrity requires nothing less, but integrity seems to be harder and harder to find in Washington.
There are some games being played. The president says that his plan will kick in when we control our borders, but that will never happen. He says that there will be greater penalties for employers who hire undocumented aliens, but those laws are already on the books since 1986 and have not been enforced by President Obama or his four predecessors (from both parties). Unemployment is highest in the African-American community but no questions are coming from that community about how legalizing millions of new people will impact them. The president talks about granting some new work visa for some time and then putting people on the ‘end of the line’. What does that mean? Will any true benefits be put off indefinitely while tens of millions of aliens enter the United States in hopes of capitalizing on those future benefits? President Obama will be long gone when the rotten tomato hits the fan. (Sorry Brooklyn.)
Is it possible that the American public is too uninformed to recognize these things? Is it possible that the press, that the public relies upon for information, is also ignorant or just has its own agenda? Is it possible that the public wants to feel good and is too short sited to make rational decisions?
The Republicans have an opportunity to do the right thing and formulate a plan that grants some relief to those we want to give relief to without opening the floodgates, that grants more visas without impacting upon our already high unemployment rate and that it can explain to the American public honorably. They might present a plan that allows the Immigration Court to have more power to grant relief in worthy cases rather than a whosale giveaway. They should formulate a plan that recognizes the economic reality on the ground and uses it for the betterment of America.
In every generation there was some group that considered themselves outsiders and every one of those groups became American. Most Hispanics are American and there is no need to qualify that. As more Hispanics become American they should want the same things that we all want, a nation that lives by its principles and is fair to the individual as explained in the United States Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They will support the party that makes responsible choices as they arise and is able to explain and demonstrate proper management. Every other group should want the same things.
No group, Hispanic or not, no sane person, would want to invest in a company that was not properly managed or was being run into the ground. It is in these areas that the Republican Party can compete best.
Most of all, Hispanics should want to be considered as individuals and not as ‘Hispanic Americans’. They are Americans when they are Americans and until that date they, as everyone else, should be considered as individuals and by objective standards. Their worth is measured by who they are as individuals. It should not be measured by their ethnic inclusion. America should be better than that. When we grant benefits to newcomers it should bases upon what they can do for America or at least who America wants to be kind to.
I would like to see the Republican Party stand on principle and not grovel for votes.
is an Attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Visa, Immigration and Nationality Law since 1977.