There’s been plenty of talk on how Latino voters saved the day on Election Night and how they’re a major reason that the GOP suffered the loses it did. In the wake of the election, some Republican leaders are urging their party to recalibrate its position on issues important to Latino voters — namely, immigration reform.
On Sunday Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) teamed up with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in revamping a bipartisan push for comprehensive reform. Senator Graham said that Americans need to be “firm and fair” but that an immigration stance like one-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s infamous self-deportation policy simply “isn’t going to work.”
From Huff Post Latino Voices:
” ‘I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to an American problem. But we have nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing Hispanics. And we can get them back with some effort on our part.’
Graham’s decision to re-enter discussions signals potential progress on the issue. He was a leader on the Republican side in the past, along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but had since backed away from any type of discussion of giving legal status to undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
Graham indicated that he would support a plan that allowed undocumented immigrants to eventually gain citizenship in the United States. He said it would involve securing the border and asking undocumented immigrants to come to the government, pay taxes, speak English and ‘get in the back of the line before they can become citizens.’ “
Although I don’t think immigrants and DREAMers should be forced to learn English — only encouraged to do so — making the undocumented “get in back of the line before they can become citizens” is a fair way to show respect for the law and accommodate those who have been brought here by no choice of their own. DREAMers shouldn’t be deported, but they shouldn’t be placed at the front of the line either. And if they want to be mad at somebody for having to wait at the back of the line, they should blame the parents who brought them here.
It’s likely Congress will pass some kind of immigration reform soon. The 2014 midterms elections will be here in no time, and the GOP doesn’t want to lose any more seats in the House, much less lose control of the House entirely, just because they failed again to capture enough of the Latino electorate.
(The Republicans will go after Latinos and not women, because while immigration is merely a secular issue that the GOP can afford to give a little on, issues like abortion and contraceptive health care — which women generally favor — are religious issues that the Republicans can’t bend on without the risk of diluting their Bible-thumping base, which is a shrinking minority in the country as it is.)
Still, whether Senator Graham can recruit enough of his colleagues from the red side of the aisle in the Senate and garner support for immigration reform in the Tea Party-dominated House remains to be seen. While many Republicans agree that their party will have to support immigration reform if it wants to win over Latino voters, no Republican wants to support immigration reform right now only to go against a Tea Party challenger in the next primary.
Passage of immigration reform will come down to the Republican Party itself, on whether or not there are enough brave Republicans in both chambers of Congress and whether the party can wrangle in its more far-right members.