Five Reasons Immigration Reform Is Still Likely to Pass
As lawmakers prepare to return to Washington after Labor Day, a few pundits have blithely predicted that, "immigration reform is dead."
In fact, there are many good reasons to predict that the odds are very good the GOP House Leadership will ultimately allow a vote on an immigration reform bill containing a pathway to citizenship this year. The GOP leadership understands that if an immigration reform bill passes, the Democrats will get the credit with key immigrant constituencies. But they are also coming to realize that if they do not call the bill, they will get the blame with those same constituencies - and that could lead to both short-term and-long term disaster for the Republican Party.
In order maintain control of the House, Republicans cannot afford to lose more than seventeen seats in the mid-term elections. There are 44 districts currently held by Republicans where significant numbers of the voters (12% or more) are either Hispanics or Asian Americans. Of that number, as many as 20 may be seriously in play in 2014.
The mid-term elections are all about turnout. If Hispanic and Asian American voters are sufficiently enraged by Republican refusal to pass immigration reform, the GOP high command fears that they will register to vote and turn out in substantial numbers. That could easily tip the balance in terms of control of the House of Representatives.
The Republican Leadership will be under enormous pressure from the Republican establishment not to permanently damage the GOP with the exploding number of Hispanic and Asian American voters.
If the GOP refuses to call a vote on a pathway to citizenship in the House and is blamed for blocking immigration reform, that could alienate many of those constituencies - and especially Hispanics - for decades to come.
The more GOP leaders like Representative Steve King (R-IA-4) make outrageous comments like the one about the "cantaloupe-sized calves" that immigrants get from "transporting hundreds of pounds of drugs" through the desert, or like Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1) and Congressman Don Young of Alaska (R-AK-AL) who referred to Hispanics as "wetbacks," the harder it is for the Republican Leadership in the House to resist pressure from the GOP establishment to call a vote on immigration reform.
Otherwise, if these individuals define the image of the GOP, it would make it even more likely that the GOP will lose control of the House in 2014.
Increasing portions of the GOP base actively support comprehensive immigration reform.
Many conservatives have begun to actively campaign to pass immigration reform. For example, national Evangelical leaders are working hard to persuade Republicans to vote yes - and call a vote in the House. Evangelical support neutralizes the fears of many GOP representatives that a vote for immigration reform could subject them to a primary. That has weakened opposition to reform among Republicans who are more concerned about Primaries than General Elections.
The polling shows that the biggest vulnerability for the GOP next year is the fact that persuadable voters increasingly believe that the Republicans in Congress are simply incapable of governing. Voters hate the gridlock and increasingly blame Republicans for obstruction. Increasingly, swing voters believe that the GOP is willing to sacrifice the good of the country for narrow partisan ideological reasons.