Hello everybody, my name is Gary Wang. I’ll be blogging here on political affairs in the United States.
Recently, the senate voted 56-43 to kill the bipartisan immigration reform bill. One the bill’s staunch opponents, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) boasted on his senate website that “This act created a crisis of confidence in their government. Thankfully, the American people won today” He’s right. The American people did win, but not for the reasons Senator DeMint probably thinks.
The American people won because the immigration bill was fundamentally flawed in that its guest worker provision would have ultimately created a permanent underclass of workers from Mexico and other Latin American nations. (More on this in another post) So, losing the bill is in some ways good. It allows Congress to pass a more progressive version in the future. Ironically, the law and order conservatives who would blanch at such a bill make it more likely that it’ll happen. While Democrats and Republicans deserve their fair share of blame for the bill’s demise, Republicans opposed it the most vocally, even though the Democrats control the Senate in theory by a narrow one vote majority. However, to end debate and pass the bill, Harry Reid needed 60 votes, not just 51.
Ironically, the people who lost the most politically are those Americans who support the GOP and hope the GOP will retake control of Congress and maintain control of the White House in 2008. The immigration bill contained provisions that would have allowed illegal immigrants the chance to apply for citizenship once they payed fines and overcame other legal obstacles. Yet, this approach was derided as “amnesty” by Rush Limbaugh and those like-minded…or should I say like-mindless? Ultimately, senators facing reelection in 2008 caved into what was perceived as public outcry. The New York Times blogged that
Republicans and Democrats have been battling over various amendments to the bill this week, as their offices were flooded with calls, e-mail swarms and even some threats
So, with President Bush receiving about 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and the GOP collectively receiving about 29% in 2006, arguing that we need to deport 10-12 million immigrants, or just seal the border is political suicide and intellectually bankrupt. The members of the GOP who can’t accept that amnesty is not a dirty word, but the right word are dooming their party. As long as there exists a huge economic incentive to find work in the United States and send back remittance payments to Mexico, immigration, illegal or not to this country will continue. It’s simply impossible to seal the southern border no matter how many miles of wall Congress promises to build. However, the GOP is building a wall, one between victory and itself.
The fastest growing minority in the United States, Hispanic-Americans are well aware that many in the GOP, (that’s you, Tom Tancredo) have taken a hard line stance against immigration. Many remember the insinuations that illegal immigrants, the large majority of whom are from Mexican, are terrorists, drug lords, or gangsters. Furthermore, such demagoguery alienates them. The right leaning Wall Street Journal even editorializes that
But in the run-up to last year’s midterm elections, Republicans chose to make immigration their lead issue. The GOP leadership in Congress encouraged talk radio and cable news shows to inflate the illegal alien problem, and Republican candidates took a hard-line anti-immigration stance in hopes of turning out GOP voters. It didn’t work.
Putting the Cuban American Senator Mel Martinez as chairman of the RNC for the 2008 election was supposed to win back the Hispanic vote, but his support of the immigration reform bill was useless and overshadowed in the face of an onslaught of angry phone calls incited by talk radio. There’s no way the Republicans can control the White House, much less Congress in 2008, if 43 million Hispanic-Americans view the GOP as nativist and hostile to their culture and identity. So, by all means, the American people will win a greater victory for a progressive immigration bill in the future, by sacrificing the current reform proposal.