A House Divided?

Maybe Not When It Comes to Immigration Reform

As we mentioned on previous occasions, elections do have consequences.  The Latino population came out and voted in 2012, and a large number voted Democratic.  As a result, a growing number of Republican politicians are beginning to listen.

Recently, a bipartisan group of eight Congressmen met with their respective leadership to convey to them a framework they have been working on with regards to overhauling the current immigration system.  Four Democrats in the eight-person group — Representatives Xavier Becerra of California, Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, Zoe Lofgren of California and John Yarmuth of Kentucky — briefed their House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California. The Republicans of the group — Representatives John Carter and Sam Johnson, both of Texas, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho — met with Speaker John A. Boehner.

Immigration Reform

One aide stated that “the meetings with Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi offer a chance for the working group to offer a progress update and take the temperature,” as well as run through any potential traps with the proposed framework.  Mr. Boehner said that “My goal is to address the issue — how we address it, what the process looks like, there are absolutely no decisions on that. But I do believe it’s important that we deal with this in a bipartisan way, and I’m going to do everything I can to continue to promote that.”

Even though the members of the group have described as being at a point where a breakthrough is imminent, they will probably wait until after the end of March, 2013.  This appears to align with what their counterparts in the Senate are, even though they are further ahead of the Representatives with their discussion of immigration reform.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of a bipartisan group working on a Senate immigration bill, has indicated that even though that the details of bill have not yet been finalized, it will include a pathway to citizenship, especially for those who are refugees and asylees.   Menendez further added: “I think that it’s expected that these people, that have been here under a legal avenue, should have some possibility to change their status in a quicker manner.”  The Senator refers to the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, which was part of a large-scale immigration law that passed in 1990.  This program gives certain immigrants who are already in the U.S. a way to remain in the country if they face imminent dangers in their home country, such as a civil war or a natural disaster.  TPS was originally created because pre-existing refugee and asylum weren’t adequately addressing immigrants fleeing the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  In fact, two-thirds of people living in the country under TPS are Salvadorean.

When a country is designated with Temporary Protected Status those foreign nationals in the U.S. at the time of the designation can apply for it, but the status does not lead to legal permanent residency. But when TPS is revoked for a country, those immigrants can lose their protection against deportation and then are expected to leave the United States.

Some conservatives have stated that the program has its problems because it isn’t temporary, as it was intended. For example, Salvadorans were reinstated TPS status after a series of earthquakes in 2001, and have been eligible for TPS ever since.  And if Salvadorans with TPS would have their status revoked suddenly, it could mean expelling residents who have been living and working in the country for decades.

And there is of course Donald Trump who, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., stated that immigration reform basically amounts to a “suicide mission” for the Republican party.  He further added that the “11 million illegals, even if given the right to vote – you know you’re going to have to do what’s right – but the fact is 11 million people will be voting Democrat.”  And he seemed to suggest the U.S. should allow more Europeans into the country to counterbalance the influence of Latino voters.

And there lies the problem with the GOP – as long as they listen to uninformed talking heads, who have never been elected to any office, they are doomed to repeat history.

Elections do have consequences.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln