(Jim Clark) – With headlines screaming about health care reform, Afghanistan, global warming, and the Dubai default another “hope and change” scheme is quietly being hatched, or more correctly, revisited, just below the political surface . . . immigration reform.
Readers will recall that the last time the issue surfaced newly reelected President George W. Bush announced that he was going to “spend some of his political capital” on immigration reform, trying to at least regularize the status of the estimated 12 million illegal aliens living in the US. Bush was, after all, formerly governor of Texas and garnered 55% of the Latino vote his last gubernatorial election before running for president.
His plan enjoyed early support from Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-NC) but ran into huge resistance from right wing talk show hosts who fomented their audiences to call Congress and “just say no”. Then the Heritage Foundation released a study that showed how amnesty would balloon that population as families of the pardoned joined them north of the border. The Democrats sat idly by watching the GOP civil war and the proposal finally died of its own weight.
The immigration reform forces are again flexing their muscles. This time they have President Obama in the White House, Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a broader base of support than just the Latino population.
Asian-American congressmen and women are joining in the movement as is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Washington NAACP bureau director Hillary Shelton said: “The immigration debate needs to have, in addition to a Latino face, it needs to have a Haitian face. It needs to have an Asian face.”
Proponents realize that immigration reform is a “hot button” issue which is probably why they are doing their planning and talking outside the glare of media publicity. They are seeking support from an eclectic array of interests including evangelical churches, labor unions, members of law enforcement who are ill at ease with the dual standards imposed on them, and businesses who have been hurt by a number of anti-immigration state laws penalizing them for hiring people who furnish fake identifications.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D – Ill) is heading up immigration reform meetings in various churches and organizing “house parties” for more than 60,000 people where participants share conference calls with him and other members of Congress. Pastor Lennox Abrigo of the Seventh-day New Covenant Church in Maryland is arranging a White House meeting for evangelical pastors who support immigration reform.
So, Republicans need to know this is coming and give some thought to the position we ought to take on the issue. Fore sure we don’t want something rammed through like the health care and “Tax & Cap” bills were so we ought again to demand that any proposals be available to the public in full at least 72 hours before being voted on.
Having only a minority in Congress perhaps the GOP should take a different stance on the substance of the bill. If we oppose it and lose then we will alienate a large and growing demographic of voters.
Alternatively, remembering Governor Bush’s success with Latinos, perhaps we should come up with a Republican version of the proposal. After all most Latinos would fit nicely into the GOP. They are industrious workers, deeply faithful, family oriented and distrustful of government. With Brian Sandoval making a strong bid for the Nevada governorship and Abel Maldonado, son of Mexican migrant workers, picked to be California’s lieutenant governor, maybe we need to shape legislation instead of resisting it.
Just a thought.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee)