Last fall, when President Obama was reelected and Republicans were processing their unanticipated loss, the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform looked stronger than any policy objective had in Obama’s first four years. That was mainly because Republicans had just watched Mitt Romney lose Hispanic voters by more than 40 percentage points and they understood that demographics were threatening their future viability.
Eight months later, the odds for immigration reform look much, much worse. notwithstanding the comprehensive reform bill that passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Once again, Republican sentiment is responsible for the change. As the shock of Romney’s loss has faded, many Republicans have talked themselves out of taking the step they once thought urgent: agreeing to legal status and a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The verdict should become clearer after House Republicans meet on Wednesday to plot a strategy for how to move ahead—or not move ahead—on immigration.
A big cause of the shift in GOP attitudes, besides a general unwillingness to hand Obama a victory, is a growing belief that agreeing to reform the nation’s immigration laws isn’t necessary to repair the party’s problems with Hispanic voters. If Republicans indeed choose this path, they’ll have to study carefully the handful of House and Senate members who have opposed reform and still managed to attract a sizable share of Hispanic voters.
Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Author: Joshua Green