Immigration: Policy and Politics

We will have comprehensive immigration reform within the next few months. The Republicans need it to survive. The Democrats cannot again stiff the demographic which gave Obama a plurality of 6 million votes in his 3 million vote victory.

The policy is simple. In a brief moment of bipartisan wisdom, eight Senators worked out the framework – Schumer, Menendez, Bennet, and Durbin for the Dems (mostly Northerners); and McCain, Rubio, Graham, and Flake for the Republicans (all Southern/Border folks).

The program:

1. A path to citizenship with secure borders and visa management.

2. An improved legal immigrant system which attracts the world’s best and brightest.

3. Strong employment verification.

4. A guest worker program and protection of employee rights.

The final bill will jiggle a bit, but this is about it. We will move a bit more toward the Canadian model which admits immigrants based on what skills and attributes they bring to us. Let the beacon attract people who can make us greater – and pay for our Social Security.

The politics:

1. Republicans cannot withstand a 70% Democratic vote among the rapidly expanding 23 million Hispanics who can vote (about half do), but worse would be to add another 11 million who would vote Democratic in even greater percentages. Long term residency (without the vote) works, as do lots of hurdles and an 8 plus year delay in elegibility for citizenship – until after today’s political leaders are out of Dodge.

2. Obama’s role in this is fun to watch. In his first two years when Democrats controlled Congress he did nothing. Maybe because his African American supporters do not want to give up their status as the preferred minority. Maybe because his union supporters do not want to increase competition for scarce jobs. Maybe because he was clever enough to preserve Hispanic anger with Republicans. Those with longer memories recall the junior senator from Illinois torpedoing the Bush / McCain efforts in 2007 – for the same reasons.

Now that comprehensive reform will be one of the few high points of his second term he wants it to be his accomplishment – prominence in the State of the Union; speeches around the country; a highlight of his Organizing for America perpetual campaign. But the Group of Eight has been smart enough to say “no thanks” –  you can position your thoughts as a backup plan, but we’ve got this one.

3. On the Republican side it is the first round of interviews for 2016. People like a name on important legislation: Taft-Hartley; Dodd-Frank; Hart-Scott-Rodino. Eight names is too many, and Menendez-Rubio would have had a nice ring to it – until Menendez, the only Democratic Hispanic Senator got in trouble for jaunts on a donor’s jet to meet up with hookers in the Dominican Republic. On this issue -one of the most critical to Republican success – there is a temptation to make it the Rubio Plan. He is the rightful leader, has been working on the effort for years and his name ends in a vowel.

Meanwhile, somewhere down in the bowels of the Hillary campaign the staffers are figuring how to take down Rubio if he gets credit for leading this charge, and the fair and balanced New York Times has raised the level of discourse by explaining why his taking a drink of water during his Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech is an obvious disqualifier.

Whatever. We will have immigration reform and it will be good.


This week’s bonus is a presentation that Harmeet Dhillon, the Chair of the San Francisco Republican Party made to the Central Committee in San Diego as part of her campaign for the state Republican Party Vice Chair. The good news for the GOP everywhere is that even in California the opportunity and liberty messages resonate.