Will Republicans take Immigration away from Democrats as a divisive issue?
Once again we are in the mist of another contentious debate, except this time it looks like at least some members of the GOP seem to get what’s at stake. Comprised of four Republicans and four Democrats, the so-called gang of eight, have come together on this divisive issue, one that has been debated for decades, only to end in failure.
Most notable on the list is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), who is widely considered to be positioning himself for a run for president come 2016. The three other Republicans are Sen. Jeff Flake (R. Ariz), a libertarian-oriented conservative; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), a long-time advocate of immigration reform; and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who like Flake and McCain have pushed for immigration reform. For the Democrats it’s Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who authorized the DREAM Act; Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, plus cares a lot about this issue; and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), a bipartisan reformer on the immigration issue, and he comes from a state that has “20 percent Hispanic and ranks 12th in the nation for undocumented immigrants.”
Most important out of this group is probably Marco Rubio, because he alone can bring along wary conservatives. Because of Rubio’s popularity with conservatives, and his potential as a generational presidential candidate, he is in this unique position to bring the sides together on immigration. If the Republican establishment can figure out a way to convince the conservative media that immigration is a losing issue that limits the party's chances from winning back the White House, then Rubio will be in great position to win in 2016. However,
its a risky thing to do.
The fact is the Republican Party needs to repair its relationship with minority voters, and especially Latino voters, makes this move by Rubio necessary. However, I for one believe that the Latino vote would not be enough to sustain the party past maybe one or two cycles, and if immigration reform gets done, then nothing is guaranteed to change considering some of the party’s other unpopular stances on issues such as gay marriage. The 2008/2012 youth vote is going to much older in 2016/2020; and the young coming up will be even more wanting to see gay couples have equal rights. I do not mean to interject the issue into this debate, but when it comes to the future of the Republican Party, they have to reach out to more demographics that just Latino.
That’s why the news that Republicans are already planning to stop the Uniting American Families Act, which legislation that puts gay and lesbian couples on equal footing in the immigration system with same-sex couples, is a step in the wrong direction for the party. Minorities in this nation know all too well what it feels like to be treated differently. This is why Republicans did not see minorities abandon Obama even though many are religious and have opposing views on same-sex marriage. Republicans did not count on the There common bond between these groups, a civil rights bond.
Then there is President Obama, that can get in the way of immigration reform; much like he did during the 2012 campaign. In fact, if he thinks more about his legacy, he may just surmise that he needs a Democrat to win in 2016 to cement his legacy. Immigration is a powerful issue, Democrats may not want to take it off the table, especially when part of the credit will go to an articulate young Republican Latino by the name of Marco Rubio, who is one of the GOP’s leading candidates to run on the top of the ticket in 2016. Of course Obama may just want to jump out there in front of the Republicans and Democrats to make sure some of the credit comes his way.
Obama was correct when he said that “The good news is that — for the first time in many years — Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution.”
Additionally, Obama is right about there being “11 million undocumented immigrants in America; 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. Those are facts. Nobody disputes them. But these 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years. And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble. They’re contributing members of the community. They're looking out for their families. They're looking out for their neighbors. They're woven into the fabric of our lives.”
If Republicans were smart they would not push too hard on trying to win this debate. They must do something to fix their reputation, and if this debate goes bad for them, they will find it hard pressed to win national campaigns. However, we may even see some of the so-called superstars of the party opt out of running in 2016 because they know this debate hurt their chances with Latino's even greater than it already is. The Party must do something to fix this.
Yes, passing immigration reform may do little to mend hurt feelings, but not passing it ensures defeat. Republicans have to finesse this debate and make it their own. They have always been the Party of civil rights, why stop now. We can rest assure that "Rubio will be the key to success or failure of the compromise."
Plus Rubio says "I'm not going to support anything and I don't want us to do anything," "that brings us right back to this point again in the future. And that's why that we have to make sure that the way this law is structured, [it] ensures — guarantees — that the enforcement things happen.... Yes. That's absolutely one of the key standards I bring, it's one of the key parts of our principles."
In Ed Morrissey's interview with Rubio, he asked him if he was "committing that without an enforcement mechanism that requires the border security and the visa reform to be in place and be effective and certified by a commission in some sense, you are not going to go forward with the rest of this package?"
"I'm not going to support anything and I don't want us to do anything," Rubio replied, "that brings us right back to this point again in the future. And that's why that we have to make sure that the way this law is structured, [it] ensures — guarantees — that the enforcement things happen.... Yes. That's absolutely one of the key standards I bring, it's one of the key parts of our principles."
There’s little doubt Republicans need something to happen on this issue. However, not everyone in the Party will see it that way. Whoever wins could go a long way in telling us who is running the party. We know conservatives will say that “amnesty…cannot be enacted before future waves of illegal immigration are prevented” meaning that enforcement has to come first. However, there is some truth in that; however, it is the image problem with the Republican Party that would still need fixed. If all Republicans allowed to happen was two years of enforcement, with a promise of amnesty, no one would trust it. That would do nothing but strengthen the Democrat's hand, which would likely then lead to amnesty anyways.
As bad as this sounds, the Republicans have to start thinking like Democrats, which means not advocating policies they know they have already lost.
For Democrats, if they are presented with a plan that shows real movement, they would be silly to deny it, demand more, hoping Republicans turn it down and they will use it during upcoming campaigns. That would also backfire, as long as the media did its job, oh wait never mind.