Pop & Hiss
MTV VMAs 2015: Five reasons it was all a mess
Top of the Ticket
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Republican hard-liners could scuttle immigration reform

Just as the Affordable Care Act was the signature piece of legislation of President Obama’s first term, the top achievement of term two is supposed to be immigration reform. And, for a while, with Republicans freaked out by the ground they have lost among Latino voters, such legislation looked unstoppable. But now, not so much.

On Friday, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution calling on Congress to pass immigration reform, but the version of reform they want provides only renewable work permits, not a path to citizenship, for undocumented residents of the U.S.

That is not what Obama and the Democrats have called for, nor what Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and John McCain have been pushing, nor what was hammered out in a Senate bill by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”

All of them see a path to citizenship as a crucial element in the legislation. But the RNC’s position reflects the view of many Republicans, including many members of the House GOP, that no one should be rewarded for sneaking into the country, even if they happened to be babies when they were sneaked in and have now grown up to go to college or serve in the military.

Democrats and pro-reform Republicans, such as McCain and Rubio, hoped to soften the hard line against offering citizenship by promising that border security would be beefed up even more than it has been. This is despite plenty of evidence that one big reason so many undocumented people have taken up residence in the United States is because crossing the border with Mexico has become so difficult and perilous. Where once Mexican citizens came and went with the rhythm of seasonal work, now they stay because the border has been militarized.

Nevertheless, despite the possibility that more rigid border controls may actually be keeping Mexican nationals on this side of the border and despite the fact that illegal entries are at a 40-year low -- partly because of increased security, but even more because of demographic and economic changes in Mexico -- many Republicans insist that many more millions of tax dollars need to be spent on a problem that is largely resolved.

They get their wish in the current immigration legislation, yet they show no inclination to reciprocate by giving an inch on citizenship -- even for the kids who grew up here and have no other country they want to call their own. 

Since the rise of tea party politicians in 2010 and the election of many of their kind to Congress, the inflexible and sometimes irrational opposition of these right-wing absolutists has stymied sensible bipartisan legislation that could help fix a broad array of problems, from creating jobs to building roads and bridges. Thanks to them, immigration reform may be the next good idea that goes nowhere.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Is Jeff Bezos journalism's savior or just another bean counter?

    Is Jeff Bezos journalism's savior or just another bean counter?

    During a quick trip to Maryland for a weekend wedding, I was in the nation’s capital long enough to discover who it is that has caught the town’s attention. It is not President Obama off on his golf vacation or any of the members of Congress scattered back to their home districts. No, the person...

  • Tea party troops start August offensive against Obamacare

    Tea party troops start August offensive against Obamacare

    While normal human beings are spending sunny August days at the beach or the lake or on the road with the kids, tea party activists are crowding into town hall meetings with members of Congress and screeching at the top of their lungs about the imagined evils of Obamacare.

  • Back to school, again and again

    Back to school, again and again

    Even in places that remain in touch with the rhythms of agriculture, few seasonal markers prove as heady, reliable and poignant as the reopening of school. Every September the crosswalks ripen with kids in their back-to-school clothes; the long yellow buses harvest our lanes and streets. First...

  • Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Would the GOP's healthcare ideas work? It depends on your definition of 'work.'

    Just like in the 2012 election, every Republican candidate for president wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Some of the candidates have even come forward with ideas for replacing it, and we are beginning to get a sense of what Republican healthcare reform might look like.

  • Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Compulsory kindergarten: Still a bad idea

    Kindergarten hasn't been its old self for a long time. After decades of increasing focus on academics, it recently became more standardized as well; the curriculum for California's 5-year-olds is now aligned with the Common Core academic standards. Kindergarten teachers are no longer preoccupied...

  • Return to New Orleans - an open hand, a welcome home

    Return to New Orleans - an open hand, a welcome home

    Like most people with people "at home" in New Orleans, I found myself both here and there in 2005. By late August, I was daily monitoring weather maps two time zones away. I watched how a "tropical system" gathered force, how it garnered enough ferocity to be granted a name. Katrina looked serious,...

Comments
Loading
70°