GOP Forces Rallying for Immigration Push25 Jan 2013
When the last serious effort to enact comprehensive immigration reform collapsed, well into the second term of President George W. Bush, it seemed but a temporary setback, and many expected a new, improved bill by the following year. It was not to be. Instead, the bipartisan coalition that supported CIR foundered when most of its GOP supporters abandoned ship. A handful of conservatives – notably Senators McCain and Graham – stayed on a while, struggling against the inevitable before making for the lifeboats.
Since then, efforts to float new CIR legislation have been stymied by the lack of GOP support – until now. President Obama’s reelection, atop a wave of Latino support, caused a political sea change amid the post-election soul searching and recriminations that followed the GOP’s reversal of fortunes. The talk now is of coalition building and Latino outreach, and major GOP constituencies are getting behind this.
A recent Los Angeles Times article sums it up nicely.
“Some national Christian organizations, law enforcement officials, and business leaders have begun coordinating a national campaign to convince voters that immigration reform can be consistent with conservative values. … Republican strategists have dubbed the emerging coalition ‘Bibles, badges, and business.'” [See Republican Allies Advocate for Immigration Reform, by Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, 21.Jan.2013.]
Influential evangelical pastors are speaking up for immigration reform, as are business leaders like former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served under President George W. Bush. According to ABC/Univision, Gutierrez “said that he’s continuing to grow a Republican super PAC, which was first announced in November, designed to urge members of Congress to support immigration reform.” [See Corporate America Lobbies for Immigration Reform, by Emily Deruy, ABC/Univision, 17.Jan.2013.] A prominent Capitol Hill newspaper, The Hill, reported that the Gutierrez super PAC is still trying to decide “whether they would just spend to protect current members or also target anti-reform Republicans.” [See Immigration Advocates Promise to Put ‘Muscle’ Behind Reform Push, by Cameron Joseph, The Hill, 17.Jan.2013.]
Business leaders also are joining forces with high-tech industries and higher education to push for STEM-related immigration reforms. In a nutshell, according to ABC/Univision: “Technology experts say they want reforms that allow the country to educate and keep the best workers in the world, to help bolster the economy and spur innovation.” [See Tech Experts: Immigration Reform Needs to Happen, by Emily Deruy, ABC/Univision, 15.Jan.2013.]
With all of these GOP constituencies coming together – pro-business, pro-law enforcement, and pro-church – CIR is looking more and more probable. To be sure, each group brings its own agenda to the debate, and it will take some doing to produce consensus on the details, but the rising tide of GOP support makes it possible, for the first time in years, to get off the reef and start charting a course.
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