Election Results Reignite Conservatives’ Interest in Immigration Reform

Written by on November 9, 2012 in Economics, Elections, Legislation, Reform with 2 Comments

Recognizing the inevitable, Speaker of the House John Boehner endorsed comprehensive immigration reform on Thursday noting “I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

Speaker Boehner is not alone, as conservative politicians and strategists acknowledge what has been evident for a long, long time—the failure to address immigration reform has broken out of its political box,  becoming a litmus test for compassion among many key voting demographics—Latinos, women, young people.  Columnist George Will attributed Mitt Romney’s defeat to his embrace of self-deportation, and many commentators firmly opposed to immigration reform for years are finally getting religion on the subject.  Fox News Commentator Sean Hannity said, after the election, that he has “evolved” on immigration and supports a “pathway to citizenship.”

What does it all mean?

Immigration reform has always been a matter of when, not if.  America doesn’t run on hate, even though its political process can be derailed for years by highly organized pockets of voters with “anti-something” agendas.  However, as George Will noted, “demography is destiny.”  Opinions change as voters change, and the history of America reflects an ever more tolerant society—one where the battleground issues of one generation become the “of course” issues of the next.  From religious freedom to civil rights to women’s rights to gay rights, the general public was often ready to recognize the moral imperative for equal, just, tolerant laws long before Congress could shift gears.  This year, immigrant rights are added to that list of watershed issues where evolving public opinion is finally strong enough to shake politicians from their complacency.

What’s next?

The most critical thing in the days and weeks ahead is to solidify congressional commitment to immigration reform, particularly a roadmap to permanent legal status for the 11 million unauthorized immigrant s in this country.  If the President and Congress can make this happen—and not get distracted by the many details that bogged down past efforts at reform, we can create a level playing field for building out a better and more inclusive immigration system that meets the social and economic needs of our future.  This won’t be easy and it won’t always be pretty, but if we hold to the basic tenet that we must have a system that is grounded in what we have in common—a love of this country and a desire to make sure that all who live here can contribute to its success, their families intact, and their dreams in play—we actually can get this done.

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  • Marta

    It’s simples as this: legalize the ones that wanna live here legally, the ones who pay taxes, never commited a crime and charge them say 15.000 to give tem green cards. This money would be spent in a fake marriage or sent to their home countries anyway. But by doing this we help the country with its huge debt and provide help do those who chose to live in America looking for a better future.

  • Leonard Adame

    Open borders is the answer. Prior to the last 10 or 16 years, Mexican workers came and went easily. They worked during the harvest season and then went home. No problems but the fact that the money withheld for taxes and social security were pocketed by unscrupulous employers. 9/11 changed all that. Politicians used the tragedy of that day to make an issue of immigration that would get them votes. It worked unfortunately. There isn’t a little racism behind this as well since too many conservatives are nativists. they’re also ignorant of history: it’s always been immigrants/people of color who’ve built this economy. All Americans are indebted to laborers of color for the lifestyles they enjoy now. The problems of violence and poverty in Latin America have been caused by Americans. Corporations moved to Mexico to escape taxes and to pay the least in wages they could. They put pressure on Mexican officials to prevent workers from unionizing for protections. This has kept workers poor and desperate, so much so they come to the U.S. so they won’t starve to death. That’s just one of many examples. American citizens should admire immigrant workers, who are the hardest working people on the planet. If the myth that says hard work pays off, then immigrants should be richer than Bill Gates. No one workers harder than laborers, whether in the fields, in construction, or as domestics.