Last week Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that the House of Representatives would not consider the Senate bipartisan Immigration bill. This has set off wild speculation regarding the future of Immigration Reform.
Instead of comprehensive reform, the House is pursuing a piece-meal approach. Many individual bills is the stated goal of the House leadership.
Those who say that Reform is now dead point to the “over my dead body” comments of ultra-conservatives in the Republican Party who are fiercely fighting any and all efforts to provide a legal path to residency for the 11 million who are out of status. Opponents of reform claim that they want the border to be impossible to cross except through checkpoints. The logical extension of this argument, it seems, is to ultimately authorize the Border Patrol to shoot on sight anyone trying to cross into the US.
Having grown up in Washington and worked on Capitol Hill, I see things a little differently. Republicans cannot escape the fact that changing demographics — namely the growth of the Latino electorate — will favor the party/parties that works to solve the current immigration disaster we face today.
Moreover, Latino voters are naturally aligned from Left to Right, just like the rest of the country. Some are liberal, but many — if not most — are more on the conservative side. Of these, a healthy percentage hold traditional values on the role of family, small business and other issues that line up more squarely in the Republican camp.
Ultimately, I believe that Republicans will choose demographic reality over ideology, which means that Immigration Reform will pass. When exactly this will happen still remains to be seen. And the final details of the reform still have to be negotiated.
For the remainder of the summer, it is likely that both sides will continue to engage in a war of words, accusations and petty politics. During this time the House may likely advance several smaller immigration bills.
After Labor Day we should see more action, and we may even witness some actual compromises on issues such as the DREAM Act, additional visas for business, low-skilled visas, and a few other items.
Democrats and Republicans will search to gain advantage from Immigration Reform. Only when both sides see an advantage from passing a bill can Immigration Reform become reality.