Fine Lines On Immigration Reform

Digby

Josh Holland has a nice succinct rundown on the possible roadblocks to the immigration reform effort. It’s a little bit more complicated than it seems at first:

[C]onventional wisdom may be underestimating the degree of fractiousness that defines the conservative movement today. Sean Hannity may see the partisan benefit in getting onboard, but Michelle Malkin is a better harbinger of the passions of the base – “Suicidal GOP senators join open-borders Dems for Shamnesty Redux,” screamed her headline.

Meanwhile, many members of the House GOP caucus are insulated from both popular and elite opinion. An analysis by the National Journal highlights the problem for a party struggling to connect with non-white voters:

Fully 131 of the 233 House Republicans represent districts that are more than 80 percent white. Not only have many of those members opposed measures beyond improving border security in the past, but there are also no natural pressure groups for immigration reform in their districts. The Democratic Caucus, which is largely unified in support of some sort of immigration-reform proposal, has just 31 members from such very white districts.

And while the national party has embarked on a period of introspection forced by a crushing national loss, many House Republicans saw their individual victories as mandates to carry on. A number of members represent districts so safe — both politically and demographically — that they don’t need to step out on immigration reform. Some surely fear potential primaries more than standing in the way of a deal: State legislatures across the country are dotted with ambitious Republicans who voted for Arizona-style immigration-enforcement laws over the past few years.

If House Republicans demand that the so-called Hastert Rule prevail – meaning that Speaker John Boehner can’t bring a bill to the floor without the support of a majority of Republicans – they could successfully block the effort, regardless of any heat they might take from leadership or the Washington Post’s editorial page.

Perhaps more importantly there are the contentious issues of “border security” and “path to citizenship” both of which seem to make right wingers crazy. Nobody even knows what “border security” is supposed to be much less how to tell if we have achieved it. And “path to citizenship” still means amnesty to most Republicans.

Meanwhile, Josh points out that Marco Rubio is walking a very fine line. He could find himself in trouble with the base with this kind of talk. It will be very interesting to see how it works out for him. Rush really doesn’t want to give up his preferred stereotype of the primitive Mexican peasant coming over the border to “drop a baby” so she can get some of that generous welfare they hand out like Halloween candy to all the non-English speakers who casually stroll into government offices crawling with police and federal authorities and demand them:

RUSH: Well, is that the reason that a majority of immigrants come to this country today? I know it used to be. They wanted to be Americans. They wanted to escape oppression. They wanted to become citizens of the greatest country on earth. I’ve seen a number of research, scholarly research data, which says that a vast majority of arriving immigrants today come here because they believe that government is the source of prosperity, and that’s what they support. It’s not about conservative principles and so forth, not the way it used to be. Are the Republicans stuck in the past in misjudging why the country is attractive to immigrants today?

Who knew that all the lazy Mexicans weren’t lazy back in the day after all? And I wonder why they suddenly got that way? This “scholarly research” sounds fascinating. I’ll have to look it up over at the VDARE site.

It’s hard to know where this is going to go. The President seems to be doing the usual thing of starting out on the center right before negotiations begin, but maybe it will work out this time. Rubio has dopted the Democratic attitude that the Republicans will get big points for making the attempt and the nation — specifically Latinos, I’d imagine — will blame the other side for the failure. I think maybe Marco’s confused. It’s either going to be the Republicans walking away from a deal because it doesn’t offer up enough punitive measures, “enforcement”, “border security” and offers a much too easy path to citizenship or Democrats walking away because it’s too punitive and makes a path to citizenship too difficult. I could be wrong, but I’m going to guess that Latinos will see themselves on the Democratic side of that argument. So, on a political level, this should be good for Democrats.

On a policy level, I’m not sure who it’s good for. But it’s unlikely to make things worse, so it’s probably worth a try.

Also, too: Why are domestic workers ignored in immigration reform? (Well, they are mostly wimmins…)

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