The main reason given to House Republicans to kill immigration reform is that the pundits do not think Hispanic voters would help the GOP in 2014 and 2016 elections. Rather than bring 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, Kristol and Lowry argue that Republicans would be better served appealing to “working-class and younger voters concerned about economic opportunity and upward mobility”:
There’s no rush to act on immigration. The Democrats didn’t do anything when they controlled all of the elected branches in 2009 and 2010. The Gang of Eight tells us constantly that we have a de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants now. Fine. What’s the urgent need to act immediately, then?
The Republicans eager to back the bill are doing so out of political panic. “I think Republicans realize the implications for the future of the Republican party in America if we don’t get this issue behind us,” John McCain says. This is silly. Are we supposed to believe that Republican Senate candidates running in states such as Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, and Montana will be hurt if the party doesn’t embrace Chuck Schumer’s immigration bill?
Kristol and Lowry’s other reasons to kill the bill is it’s simply long and “hasty,” despite 29 hours deliberating in committee and 12 full committees hearings. Another reason is they claim the bill does not enforce immigration law, even though the Congressional Budget Office found the bill would cut illegal entries up to 50 percent.
The Republican National Committee’s post-election plea to reach out to minority voters has been apparently short-lived. Kristol himself argued after John McCain lost the presidential election in 2008 that there was “a totally self-inflicted wound by House Republicans, thinking, ‘Hey, let’s be really tough on immigration, and let’s demagogue, and let’s not work with President Bush to pass legislation.'”
A recent poll from Latino Decisions confirmed that support for immigration reform is crucial for Republican midterm and presidential ambitions, showing that Hispanic support for leading GOP presidential contenders hinges on their role in the debate. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) has even called reform a “must do” for the House because it will be difficult to explain to constituents if Congress goes home without it.
American Action Forum, Americans for Tax Reform, and American Conservative Union also repeated this urgency in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) saying that the immigration bill that passed the Senate was considerable progress. Though House Republicans have urged a piecemeal approach, only comprehensive reform would deliver huge economic gains, including almost $1 trillion in deficit reduction, a 15 percent wage increase, and an annual increase of 121,000 jobs.
But the conservative editors say that killing the bill now would be different from the 2007 debate on immigration, when the issue was mired in hostility toward immigrants. They’ve overlooked Heritage’s scandal, vocal nativist groups, and comments from Rep. Steve King (R-IA), to claim that this time, immigration opponents are being more reasonable.