Friday, January 31, 2014

Racism Takes A Pivotal Role In Determining Republican Party Immigration Agenda, According To Lindsey Graham


Matt Hildreth works for America's Voice and his tweet (above) about the GOP immigration dilemma went right to the point: are they the Party of Abe Lincoln, the Great Emancipator or the Party of Jeff Sessions, a KKK sympathizer. Yesterday, Ted Cruz (R-TX) warned House Republicans not to support the Republican leadership's plan for comprehensive immigration reform. He called their plan to give legal status to immigrants "amnesty," code among Republicans that the world is coming to an end. “I think it would be a mistake if House Republicans were to support amnesty for those here illegally," he said menacingly… In my view we need to secure the borders, we need to stop illegal immigration and we need to improve and streamline legal immigration. He meant legal immigration for white people. How do I know what he meant? Well, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told me.
For more than a year House Republican leaders have insisted the chamber would act on new immigration laws. And for more than a year, Republicans have done virtually nothing on the issue-- despite intense pressure from activists, business groups, and the nation’s changing demographics.

And although there are a variety of reasons for inaction, one Republican lawmaker recently offered a frank acknowledgement for many members, there’s one issue at play not often discussed: race.

“Part of it, I think-- and I hate to say this, because these are my people-- but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” said the Southern Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”

There are a range of policy reasons for opposing plans to liberalize immigration or to regularize undocumented immigrants in the country, ones revolving around law-and-order concerns and the labor market. But that perceived thread of xenophobia, occasionally expressed bluntly on the fringes of the Republican Party and on the talk radio airwaves, has driven many Hispanic voters away from a Republican leadership that courts them avidly. And some Republicans who back an immigration overhaul, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and one of the Republican Party’s most vocal champions of a pathway to citizenship, acknowledge that race remains a reality in the immigration debate.

“There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, ‘Irish Need Not Apply.’ There’s nothing new going on today that’s gone on before. This isn’t the first time that there’s been some ugliness around the issue of immigration,” Graham said.

But Graham said despite that legacy, voters, including strong majorities of Republican primary voters, are lining up behind the idea of citizenship.

“Here’s what I don’t get: When you ask primary voters in a poll would support a pathway to citizenship where you have to learn English, pay a fine and go to the back of the line, it’s 60% in South Carolina,” Graham said. “Nationally, it’s over 70% … it seems through polling, if nothing else, that the Republican Party gets it.”
Meanwhile Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and their team were tepidly pushing back against the Know Nothing extremists like Cruz and Sessions, although adamantly ruling out a path to citizenship.
House Republican leaders are calling for illegal immigrants to be able to “live legally and without fear in the U.S.” after they have met a series of requirements and after “specific enforcement triggers” have been met, according to new principles presented Thursday to lawmakers.

The endorsement of a path to legal status for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants is a significant step toward comprehensive immigration reform for a party that has long resisted policies that some deride as amnesty.

Inside the Republican conference meeting, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued it was “important to act” on immigration reform from an economic and national security standpoint. But he drew a clear line and said that if Democrats insist on a faster path to citizenship, the effort will fall apart.

"These standards are as far as we are willing to go,” Boehner said, according to a person in the room. “Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that for her caucus, it is a special path to citizenship or nothing. If Democrats insist on that, then we are not going to get anywhere this year.”

"Having said that,” he added, “I believe these standards represent a fair, principled way for us to solve this issue, beginning with securing our borders and enforcing our laws.”
Back to Matt Hildreth's organization , America's Voice, again. In a report released this week, they predicted that the GOP retreat would determine how the House tackles immigration reform. The Republicans are well aware of the district-level polling that could be a threat to dozens of Republican congressmen over the course of the next 6 years. The 2 takeaways from the report:

Immigration reform is broadly popular in available district-specific polling of Republican-held congressional seats. Available district-specific immigration polling, conducted in the past year by both Democratic and Republican-affiliated pollsters in 25 different Republican-held districts, shows consistent and broad public support for immigration reform. Notably, both likely voters and self-identified Republican likely voters support a path to earned legalization and citizenship as part of a broader immigration fix in district after district. In every district polled, citizenship topped other policy alternatives. In addition to the district-specific polling results, several polls of aggregated congressional district polling assess immigration sentiment in a broader number of competitive House districts. Among Latino voters and all likely voters in these aggregated congressional battleground polls, support is overwhelming on behalf of an immigration reform package that includes a path to citizenship.

The fear that Republican primary voters don’t support immigration reform is overstated-- in fact, Republican primary voters are more pragmatic and pro-reform than conventional political wisdom assumes. The persistent conventional political wisdom that Republican voters are anti-immigration is not borne out by public opinion and polling research. Whether examining immigration in the 2012 presidential primary season or Republican-specific polling conducted during 2013, the GOP base is more open and supportive of immigration reform-- including reform with legalization and citizenship provisions-- than our punditry assumes. Resultantly, the fears over primary challengers due to immigration are more about misplaced perception than actual reality.
Even in a district the Republicans consider completely safe-- like Darrell Issa's-- if the GOP blocks comprehensive reform, the Republican brand is in dire jeopardy and incumbents will start losing their seats. Magellan Strategies found that in CA-49, "74% of likely voters, including 72% of Republicans, support immigration legislation that would 'increase border security, block employers from hiring undocumented immigrants, and make sure that undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. with no criminal record register for legal status. If immigrants were to meet a list of requirements, they could eventually apply for citizenship.'"

The GOP is getting rid of Buck McKeon, who announced he's finally retiring, but the CA-25 GOP has named two notorious right-wing xenophobes as filled with bigotry as he is… and in the face of this devastating information, which makes it look like Lee Rogers will be going to Congress in January, 2015:

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