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Immigration Reform: The Democrats’ 2010 Kryptonite?

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Harry Reid may well have had the 2010 elections in mind, including his own dicey bid for re-election come November, when he insisted this week that Congress complete immigration reform this year.

To be sure, the Senate has much other unfinished business on its plate — notably comprehensive energy and climate legislation, not to mention the need to pass spending bills to keep the government funded beyond the end of the current fiscal year in September.

Although the legislative calendar may be getting tight for lawmakers who want to head for the doors this fall to head home to campaign for a next term, hopefully the Senate majority leader understands that enacting immigration reform would be well worth it. Indeed, accomplishing immigration reform could possibly make all the difference on Election Day for Reid and other Democrats.

Reid's office on Tuesday released a statement reaffirming his commitment to finishing immigration reform during the current Congress.

“Sen. Reid has been consistent for months about his desire to pass an immigration reform bill that is tough, fair and practical,” says Reid spokesman José Dante Parra. “At the beginning of this Congress, Sen. Reid included immigration reform among the Senate’s top priorities and that is where such reform remains. This reform must include strong and effective enforcement of our borders; a requirement that immigrants here illegally register with the government, learn English, pay taxes, pass criminal background checks, and get in the back of the line to earn legalization; and punish unscrupulous employers who abuse immigrants and undercut American workers.”

Reid's spokesman echoes a sentiment from the White House that says Democrats will base their reform package based on bipartisan legislation under development by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

If Republicans think that they can win big this year by tapping anger on the right among tea partiers and other conservatives over enactment of healthcare reform, Democrats may find the antidote in immigration reform.

An immigration overhaul holds potential for a one, two, three punch against Republicans heading into the midterm elections.

First, immigration reform holds real potential to neutralize the right wing's motivation to vote come November. Republicans are counting on conservative animosity toward the new healthcare law to drive voters en masse to support GOP candidates this year. Enactment of immigration reform, though, could easily dissipate the enthusiasm among conservatives that Republicans are counting on.

The last time Washington took on immigration reform, it was 2007 and George W. Bush sat in the White House. Bush strongly supported the reform, envisioning it as his signature second-term accomplishment. But the Republican president soon found the initiative defeated at the hands of activists and lawmakers from his right who attacked it as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.

Democrats would be wise to move immigration legislation simply for this demonstrated ability to cleave the GOP. Republicans left splintered over immigration policy could blunt much of their momentum — real or perceived — heading into the 2010 election.

Second, as much as immigration holds real potential to dampen GOP spirits, it would have the opposite effect among Democrats. After the prolonged intraparty battle over healthcare, Democrats desperately need an issue to rally the Left — and immigration reform very much fits that bill.

Finally, enactment of immigration reform would further bind to the Democrats one of the nation's fastest-growing voting blocs: Latino voters.

In an iffy election year for Democrats, solid Latino support could make a world of difference in a number of races, including Reid's own difficult path to winning a fifth term, according to data from America's Voice, a Washington-based organization that supports comprehensive immigration reform.

America's Voice notes that nearly 10 million Latinos voted in 2008—a growth of about 2.5 million voters compared to 2004 and nearly four million since 2000. Nearly one in five congressional districts (79 in total, including 54 Democratic seats) is at least 25 percent Latino. Latino voters are also spreading out into new states and areas, and will play a key role in more than 40 contested congressional and gubernatorial races in 12 states this year, the organization adds.

America's Voice cites a poll of Latinos that finds 73 percent of respondents say that they were very likely to vote in November 2010, and that fully 65 percent say they were more likely to support Democratic candidates for the House and Senate. However, 72 percent of Latino voters declared that they would not even consider voting for a candidate whose stance on immigration reform was to try and deport most undocumented immigrants — which is the approach most favored by conservative, anti-reform activists.

Reid's commitment to immigration reform this year could be nothing more than enlightened self-interest. The Nevada Democrat has acknowledged the trouble he's facing against potential Republican opponents this year. Since Latino voter turnout in his state exploded 157 percent between 2000 and 2008, success on immigration reform could be Reid's onlyticket back to the Senate come 2011.

 

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About Scott Nance

  • Arch Conservative

    So that’s the Dems best hope?

    Buy votes by giving people in this country illegally amnesty?

    Michael Savage has liberals pegged.

  • zingzing

    and reagan. never forget to forget things about reagan, archie. the man, the myth, the monkey…

  • zingzing

    and you really listen to michael savage?

    …that does make a bit of sense, actually. carry on.

  • Jewish Guy

    We been sold out !!!!!!!!!!!!!! If Americans don’t fight this it’s over : We will be a True third World Banana Republic – Why do we need all these Illegals ? Our Un Employment rate in this Liberal Anti Middle Class Country is hovering at roughly 18% and we all know Illegals vote Donkey – Lindsey Graham is a total IDIOT SUPPORTING THE DEMONCRATS ! The Mexicans will throw us all out of our own country if these foolish clowns in Washington give the Law Breakers citizenship ! How dumb can we be ? Mexico isn’t helping us out in Iraq ! They never help us out in Wars they just take take and take :

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zing –

    Kudos on #’s 2 and 3. As you said, they never forget to forget the Reagan amnesty for illegal aliens. Compared to most conservatives today, Reagan was a flaming liberal.

    Y’know, ten years before we met, my wife was an illegal alien. She got her citizenship two years after she arrived…and now she’s a true American success story living the middle-class American dream. I consider myself quite patriotic, but she’s much more so.

    If America was smart, we’d do our level best to improve the Mexican economy and national stability to a level nearer our own…because that’s why the Canadians aren’t a problem with illegal immigration – they’re not a third-world country.

    That, and we should legalize drugs (per the Netherlands) and crack down heavily on the illegal gun trade. These would help end the drug war that our hunger for illegal drugs and guns are fueling. All that would need to be done to get the guns under control is to follow the examples of Switzerland and Israel – register ALL guns and require background checks of ALL prospective buyers.

    It is not until we do these things that illegal immigration from Mexico will stop being such a problem.

  • EJ

    Really all we need to do is ENFORCE the laws we already have. What good do would new laws do if they’re not enforced? If you’re in the country illegally, you get deported. Period. No exceptions besides the ones already in place. If you hire illegal aliens, you get arrested and prosecuted.

    And Glenn, guns doesn’t really have anything to do with illegal immigration. There’s no proof that the drug cartels are getting their guns from the US. And there isn’t any proof that we’re getting guns illegally from Mexico, or any country for that matter. Has licensing requirements for ALL drivers and registration requirements for ALL motor vehicles stopped illegal aliens from using them? Hell no! Guns aren’t the issue. Poor enforcement of the current immigration laws are the issue.

    And your wife is not patriotic if she doesn’t respect the laws of our country enough to come here legally the first time. There are reasons those laws are in place. We don’t need aliens here who don’t respect our laws. Nor should we be awarding them citizenship when they’ve broken the laws. That only encourages them to violate the law because they’ll be rewarded for it. There are people who have been waiting for 15 years or more to come here legally even though they probably knew that it would be a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to come here illegally. They respect our laws enough to wait until they can come legally even though they have to wait for years. Those are the kind of people we need here in the United States; not people who break our laws and expect to be rewarded for it. I wish your wife had never become a citizen. We don’t need people who have no respect for laws here.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    EJ –

    I’ve got a whole lot of info here for you to ignore!

    If you’re in the country illegally, you get deported.

    Sounds good in theory…but in real life, that’s just as silly as the liberal desire to get rid of all the guns. In other words, it ain’t gonna happen.

    And there isn’t any proof that we’re getting guns illegally from Mexico, or any country for that matter.

    No…read my comment again – the issue is AMERICAN guns being taken across the border to Mexico to help fuel the drug war. Read this from Newsweek:

    We are the largest consumer of drugs in the world. We have the largest supply of weaponry in the world. Two thousand guns cross the American border every day into Mexico. If the supply of weapons is coming from one place, and the demand for drugs is coming from one place, it seems self-evident that we are responsible.

    If you don’t think this has an impact on illegal immigration, then you’ve got much to learn – many of the illegals are fleeing Mexico for their lives. BTW – I used to work for Immigration, among other things.

    Has licensing requirements for ALL drivers and registration requirements for ALL motor vehicles stopped illegal aliens from using them? Hell no! Guns aren’t the issue.

    Well, by YOUR logic we should just let bags of cocaine sit on every street corner, because our best efforts in the War on Drugs have failed and our kids get it anyway, right?

    And we should just get rid of bank guards and safes because bank robbers still rob banks, right?

    EJ, just because the illegals get their hands on guns or cars does NOT mean you should just give up and make it easy on them!

    Poor enforcement of the current immigration laws are the issue.

    That’s only PART of the issue. As long as America remains the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, and as long as America is allowing 2,000 guns per day to be illegally taken across the border to Mexico, we’re going to get illegal aliens fleeing the drug war. Anywhere other from across our southern border, people fleeing a war are called refugees.

    And your wife is not patriotic if she doesn’t respect the laws of our country enough to come here legally the first time.

    This shows how much you don’t know and how much you don’t understand. If YOU were from outside the U.S. and if it was obvious to YOU that the best way for you to feed your family or to escape being imprisoned or murdered was to become an illegal alien in America, YOU would sure as hell do it. If you think otherwise, then you have absolutely no clue as to what goes on in the mind of those who cross the border into America illegally.

    You have no clue, guy. Those who CAN wait, do so. Those who canNOT wait, won’t.

    Again, if we were to apply your logic above that you applied to guns, well, our immigration laws (enforced or not) haven’t worked, so why worry about it! BUT IF YOU WANT TO STOP illegal immigration, then do that which makes their lives better on the OTHER side of the border (i.e. stop their drug war). Anything else you do – ANYTHING else you do – is just pouring taxpayer money down a hole.

    Ah, but who’m I kidding? You’re just another conservative gun nut who puts dogma above hard cold facts.

  • EJ

    It’s only silly if you don’t know how to do it. There are ways to do it if we had the political will to do so. Just one such example would be for the federal government to cut off all federal funding to states and cities that knowingly and willingly support illegal aliens. By support I mean allow them in schools, don’t report them to ICE as they’re required to by law, maintain sanctuary cities, or anything that allows them to remain here.

    Actually, you should read my comment again. You must’ve skipped over the sentence where I wrote “THERE’S NO PROOF THAT THE DRUG CARTELS ARE GETTING THEIR GUNS FROM THE US”. So who’s ignoring who now? Can you read that now, or are you still going to skip over that? And as far as that article goes: The DOJ is suppised to destroy the DROS (dealer’s record of sale) after the purchase. So the AFT doesn’t have any information on legally sold guns after the sale. That brings up the question of exactly how are they getting this information? Serial numbers aren’t kept in any databases by the federal governemnt (at least they aren’t supposed to be. If they are, we have a lot more problems coming…) Again, there isn’t any sold proof that major supplies of guns are going into Mexico from the US.

    “Well, by YOUR logic we should just let bags of cocaine sit on every street corner, because our best efforts in the War on Drugs have failed and our kids get it anyway, right?” Firstly, you’re the one who suggested that we end the War on Drugs. Second, you’re missing one major issue. It’s called AUTHORITY. The government simply doesn’t have the authority to control guns. Go read the Second Amendment.

    So allowing drugs into the country isnt poor enforcement? What constitutes poor enforcement then? I think that the Border Patrol is doing about the best they can with what they have, but it’s still poor enforcement when you take into consideration the ratio of agents to open border we have. It’s like saying that poor enforcement of sex offender laws isn’t a result of the number of sex offenders we have on the streets. The police aren’t the only ones involved in enforcing the laws. The courts are too. If the courts convicted more sex offenders and gave them harsher punishments there wouldn’t be so many of them. It’s the same with illegal aliens.

    OK, so what was you wife’s situation before she came here illegally? Was she in imminent danger of death because of economic, political, or other reasons? That’s what we have asylum laws for. People who enter the country under asylum laws aren’t considered illegal aliens because they’ve come here with the permission of the government.

    And again, your missing the fact that the government doesn’t have the AUTHORITY to create gun control. That’s not an equal comparison.

  • EJ

    Edit:
    “It’s like saying that poor enforcement of sex offender laws isn’t a result of the number of sex offenders we have on the streets. The police aren’t the only ones involved in enforcing the laws. The courts are too. If the courts convicted more sex offenders and gave them harsher punishments there wouldn’t be so many of them. It’s the same with illegal aliens”

    That should be “It’s like saying that poor enforcement of sex offender laws DOESN’T result in the number of sex offenders we have on the street…”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Your logic is like saying that enforcement of the law is the ONLY solution – whereas anyone who understand the REAL world with REAL people know that laws are only PART of the solution.

  • EJ

    You don’t really think critically then, do you?

    If you strictly enforce the laws, illegal aliens would be deported, employers would be imprisoned thereby eliminating the incentive for most people to come here illegaly. After all, most people are just here for work; at least that’s the commonly given reason. Take their emloyment, and most of them have no reason to come here.
    Strict enforcement of the laws will stop any real or percieved crimes. You think guns being illegally exported to Mexico are a problem? Enforcement of the laws we now have would stop that. People who just want work? Strict enforcement would stop that too.
    By your line of thinking, the war in Iraq is justified because we’re helping the Iraqi people so that they don’t attack us. When in reality, we don’t have any justification to be “helping” them. Enforcement of the law IS the only solution that the government can do.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    EJ –

    It does NOT matter how well you enforce the immigration laws if you do NOT do that which is necessary to ease problems on the other side of the Mexican border…because if you give someone a choice of living a hardscrabble life on the run from the American law to being caught up in the war zone that northern Mexico is fast becoming…

    …those Mexicans will STILL come here. And if you think mere law enforcement can stop them, you’ve got a LOT to learn about humanity. It’s just like inner-city crime – if you don’t improve the living conditions of those in the inner city, then you will have a high level of crime no matter how much you try to enforce the law.

    If my problem is critical thinking, then yours is tunnel vision.