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  • Article: Republicans to Sideline Hispanics and Other Minorities By Piecemeal Immigration Legislation? by Alan Lee

    Republicans to Sideline Hispanics and Other Minorities By Piecemeal Immigration Legislation?

    by Alan Lee, Esq.

    As 2014 gets underway with rampant speculation that the Republican Party will do something positive following House Speaker John Boehner's tirade against the Tea Party and hiring of Rebecca Tallent, a long time immigration advocate, questions are arising as to the amount of changes that the Republicans are likely to support and whether Hispanics and other minorities will accept them as a sign of Republican softening and not turn out in force against Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections. Mr. Boehner's aides stated recently that he wanted "step-by-step" moves on immigration. Some House Republicans have spoken in terms of a DREAM Act for the undocumented who came here as children, more visas for agricultural workers, and for high-tech workers. On the other hand of course, the Republican House may again wind up stonewalling and not passing anything related to immigration. But assuming that the House does something on immigration and if these and other placatory steps are all that will be offered in the run-up to the elections, will they be enough to sideline sufficient numbers of Hispanics and other minorities that supported President Obama and the Democrats in 2012? If so, and the Republicans take the midterm elections, that would fulfill the GOP's wishes, and the leverage that pro-immigrant groups now hold for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) will all but disappear.

    This year's midterm elections with over 30 Senate seats being contested is the prize and the impetus for the Republicans to talk seriously about compromising over the issue of immigration. Wounded by Senate majority leader Harry Reid's November use of the "nuclear option" to cut off debate on judicial and administration appointees by majority (51) and not super majority (60) vote, Republicans realize that they cannot continually thwart the present Administration through only controlling the House and filibustering in the Senate. There is also some fear that Mr. Reid could expand the use of the nuclear option to include legislation and Supreme Court appointments. So it is essential to the GOP that it regains control over that body by holding on to the seats that it has and gaining 6 seats presently held by Democrats as the present alignment is 55 Democrats (including independents caucusing with Democrats) versus 45 Republicans. 10 Democrat-held states have been identified in an article on PolicyMic, "Midterm Elections 2014: Polls Show Republicans Could Take Over The Senate," as vulnerable in descending order of susceptibility: West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia. http://policymic.com/articles/71679/midterm-elections-2014-polls-show-republicans-could-take-over-the-senate. Republican states acknowledged to be contested in other articles are Georgia and Kentucky.

    For those who remain interested in comprehensive immigration reform for the approximate 11 million undocumented people in the country, avenues of relief for discrete groups should not be looked upon as preludes to relief for all. There is the greater possibility that Congress will dither and never reach an agreement on CIR unless excruciating pressure remains fixed. Piecemeal relief to different groups will naturally have the tendency to reduce support from the groups which have already received relief, a well-known tactic of picking off supporters of a movement. From this perspective, it is difficult to understand the President's remarks in November that he was amenable to House Republicans taking up elements of the Senate bill, as long as the end result was the same.

    To this writer, unless significant steps toward CIR are taken in the first months of 2014, the only solution appears to be taking advantage of the present leverage that pro-immigrant groups have of being able to turn out large numbers of Hispanics and other minorities to work for and vote in the midterm elections to ensure that the Republican Party does not capture another 6 seats in the Senate. The great Greek mathematician Archimedes said to give him a long enough lever and a place to stand, and he would move the earth. One would hope that this lever is large enough to move the House.


    About The Author

    Alan Lee is a 30+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City holding an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Director , registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers , on the New York Super Lawyers list (2011-12, 2013-14), and recognized as a New York Area Top Rated Lawyer in 2012. He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily , and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasba and OCS . He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases ' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS , successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Bush Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      The Republicans can be expected to continue the politics of racial polarization in 2014 which killed the chances for immigration reform to pass in 2013. I agree with the author that turning out the Latino and other minority vote in 2014 will be crucial. As long as the Republicans have a reasonable chance of taking over the Senate his year, while holding on to their current House majority, there is no reason to expect them to reach an agreement on any meaningful reform legislation.

      Added to this is the Tea Party fear factor which is making even more "moderate" House Republicans scared to support reform. There is good reason to believe that the odds are against any movement on CIR this year; reform is more likely to become an election issue than the law of the land in 2014.

      Given this reality, is Obama's refusal to expand his use of executive power to give relief from deportation to more classes of people the best way to ensure a big Latino turnout for the Democrats at the polls this November?

      And by bending over backwards to give the House Republicans the benefit of the doubt by pretending that they may really be in good faith on reform after all, just because Boehner has hired one pro-reform staffer, a good way for the Democrats to make clear to minority voters which party supports reform and which party does not?

      The above questions answer themselves.

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
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