The Hill reports on May 8 that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a likely ("98.6 percent sure") Republican presidential candidate and member of the bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" that wrote the S. 744 comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, is predicting that the GOP will lose the 2016 presidential election if it doesn't get behind immigration reform.

The Senator made clear that this includes providing a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 people who are in the US without authorization. According to The Hill, the Senator said:

"If I were president of the United States, I would veto any bill that did not have a pathway to citizenship."

Senator Graham predicted that the GOP would lose the 2016 presidential election unless it improves its prospects with minorities, saying:

"I mean, we've got a big hole we've dug with Hispanics,"


"You'll never convince me's not because of the immigration debate.

He was also critical of Republicans who maintain that border security must come before immigration reform, saying:

"That's not practical...No Democratic Congress is going to give the Republican party everything we want on border security until you tell them what happens to the 11 million."

As most of us will remember, S. 744, which got just slightly more than enough Republican votes to pass the then Democratic-controlled Senate but was pronounced DOA when it reached the Republican-controlled House, attempted to accommodate the objectives of both parties by including a (lengthy) pathway to citizenship together with a huge increase in both spending and personnel to secure the Southern border.

I will leave it to the border security experts (among whose number I do not claim to be included) to argue about how effective throwing $46.3 billion of taxpayers' money to boost defense industry profits in the name of border security, as contemplated in S. 744, would have been. But at least it was a good faith attempt to reach a compromise acceptable to both sides of the aisle in Congress, and the constituents whom they represent.

Two years later, the immigration debate has moved even further to the right. The Democrats do not talk very much about a pathway to citizenship any more, or even about legalization for all 11 million unauthorized immigrants. Instead, they are mainly occupied with trying to defend President Obama's executive actions, which would help no more than half of the 11 million, at the very most, with a limited and precarious form of temporary legalization.

Some Republicans, on the other hand, instead of discussing a pathway to citizenship or even legalization, are now focusing on trying to take American citizenship away from millions of US-born Latino and other minority children who already have this right, according to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution adopted almost 150 years ago and a leading Supreme Court decision upholding it well over a century ago which has never been seriously questioned or challenged.

It remains to be seen whether Senator Graham will be successful in moving the immigration discussion back closer to the center.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been representing employment-based and family-based immigrants for more than 30 years. He is committed to protecting the legal rights of immigrants who are applying for work visas and green cards through employment or marriage, as well as other immigration or citizenship benefits. His email is