Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Changing Immigration Landscape

Although the main stories in the press focus on gridlock and the lack of compromise, that doesn't mean that things aren't slowly changing in the United States. As usually happens, change is driven by the people as they react to circumstances created by the politicians, and that in turn leads to more calls for change. Politicians, meanwhile, usually lag behind the grass roots calls because they are essentially reactive beings loathe to offend or move too fast.

Consider immigration. There is clearly a need to reform out immigration laws, and most of that is related to things other than a path to citizenship. The Republicans have already felt the wrath of Hispanic voters, but because most of the conservatives have safe districts, and because of their irrational fear of giving President Obama any political victory, the party doesn't full see the urgency for a vote this term.

The latest argument is that Obama is not to be trusted with the law because he's already made executive changes to the ACA, and the GOP fears that he will make similar changes to anything they negotiate with him. Now, though, they're being called out by Senator Charles Schumer. His idea is to pass the law, but have it become operative in 2017, after Obama leaves office. After all, the ACA was passed in 2010 and didn't become fully operational until 2013. Why not immigration? The GOP's answer, through Rob Portman of Ohio, seems somewhat promising, but overall the Republicans have little interest in taking voters' minds off the health care rollout, even if millions of Americans now have the security of health insurance.

Make no mistake that immigration reform will get done sooner or later. Sooner, it will be done with Republican input. Later, it will be done solely by Democrats because the growing Hispanic community will see the GOP as an obstacle. The next Republican presidential nominee had better drop the deportation rhetoric if they want to have any chance of being elected.

Meanwhile, the country will move forward with or without the politicians. As it always has.

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