Democratic Party Immigration Hypocrisy
The Democratic Party doesn't have much going for it... except that the alternative is the Republican Party. Last November I couldn't-- for the first time since turning 18-- pull the lever for the Democrat running for president (nor for my incumbent [Blue Dog/New Dem] Democratic congressman)... but I already knew a Republican wouldn't beat either. It's more than me not just wanting to be forced to pick between the lesser of two evils though. I can no longer deny that the Democratic Party serves interests, primarily on Wall Street and in the Military Industrial Complex, that are antithetical to my own. This week a former Democratic congressional candidate, a prominent attorney and a leader in his state's Democratic Party sent me an e-mail that read, in part:
The three huge challenges we face are American imperialism, climate change, and economic injustice / inequality. And the data on each of those fronts is devastatingly bad, seemingly worse every day.
“At this point, his words sound like empty promises stacked against his record,” said Pablo Alvarado, the group’s executive director, in a statement.
By 2014, two million people will be deported under the Obama administration, the Huffington Post reported in January. That’s the cumulative amount of immigrants deported under Bush, and more than all deportations before 1997.
“The fact that regressive voices among Republicans have been the loudest and most shrill does not excuse the president's disastrous record on deportations,” Alvarado said. “The president alone oversees the removal of more than 1,100 people every day.”
...[N]early half of all Latinos living in the United States are less likely to report crime due to a potential involvement of immigration enforcement.
“The president must cease policies and dishonest rhetoric that equate immigrants with criminals. He knows full well that it is our families and loved ones he is profiling, criminalizing, and deporting,” he said. “The immigration debate is not one between Democrats and Republicans. It is a debate of fear versus courage.”
This week Garance Franke-Ruta, writing for The Atlantic, gave words to the Democratic Party hope that they can still win in 2014 and 2016 because Latino voters will react against Republican racism and bigotry. "Immigration reform," he asserts, "is the single most important issue for Latino voters. Republicans who oppose it are having trouble accepting that reality." Will it be enough to save the Democrats' worthless necks? Thursday we saw all but 6 House Republicans vote to start deporting DREAMers, joined by three conservative Democrats, John Barrow, Mike McIntyre and Nick Rahall. Franke-Ruta says it's how the GOP is canceling out the gains it may be making with it's well-coordinated "Summer of Scandal that will "guarantee itself a loss in 2016 and a smaller advantage in 2014 than it might otherwise have had."
Don't take it from me-- take it from the Republican National Committee, which in March issued an autopsy of Mitt Romney's loss and the party's 2012 failure to gain seats in the House or Senate.
"If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States ... they will not pay attention to our next sentence," the "Growth and Opportunity Project" report, the result of months of study, asserted. "It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies."
The establishment Republicans called for the party to back immigration reform as the way to start winning again. "Among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform," it said. "If we do not, our Party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.... Hispanic voters tell us our Party's position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door."
Or listen to the College Republican National Committee, which just issued a report on retooling the "Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation."
"The issue of the Republican Party's challenges with the youth vote and the party's challenges with non-white voters are inseparable," the report said. "The immigration debate may set up a 'gateway issue.' For voters who are undecided but have a connection to communities affected by immigration policy, the issue can certainly turn voters away."
...Or listen to Karl Rove, who on Thursday warned in the Wall Street Journal, "Immigration reform is now a gateway issue: Many Hispanics won't be open to Republicans until it is resolved, which could take the rest of the year. But there is little doubt next week's Senate deliberations will shape for some time to come the Hispanic community's perceptions of the GOP."
There were boos in the House gallery when the measure to undo Obama's executive order halting deportation of young undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers after the still unpassed DREAM Act that would provide them with a pathway to citizenship, passed on a highly partisan vote of 224-201.
While reform advocates remain optimistic about prospects for passage of the Senate Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration-reform bill, what will happen in the House remains unclear.
"We always predicted this would be a roller coaster ride with some dark moments and some strong challenges and some bad days. What makes me optimistic are the fundamentals," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice Education Fund. Speaking on a call organized to discuss new polling from his group and Latino Decisions, he noted, "The challenge that we're up against is resistance within the Republican Party and the institutional legitimacy of Congress-- can it function?...This is going to be a remarkable moment of truth for the Republican Party; they literally are facing an existential moment of truth."
"Do I think the Senate immigration bill can pass the Senate by the end of June by a 2-to-1 margin? Yes," Sharry said.
According the America's Voice/Latino Decisions poll released Thursday, immigration is the number one issue Latino/Hispanic voters care about, surpassing jobs and the economy by 20 percentage points (55 percent to 35 percent). Seventy-eight percent of respondents said it was very or extremely important that Congress address immigration reform this year; 81 percent backed an approach that focused on border security and a pathway to citizenship at the same time-- while only 13 percent backed a border-first approach.
Immigration was an incredibly personal issue for the Latinos surveyed: Sixty-seven percent said they personally knew someone who was undocumented, and for 51 percent that person was a friend or family member.
..."As the electorate overall diversifies, the Republican Party is not going to be able to win another national presidential election if they are not in the high 30s or 40s" with Latino voters, said Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions and professor at the University of Washington. "I don't think it is possible," he said. "They absolutely need make inroads."
The bill before the Senate isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise. Nobody will get everything they want-- not Democrats, not Republicans, not me. But it is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve repeatedly laid out for commonsense immigration reform.
This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders, increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers, and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers. If enacted, it would represent the most ambitious enforcement plan in recent memory.
This bill would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally-- a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.
This bill would modernize the legal immigration system so that, alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will grow our economy. And so that our people don’t have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them in this country we love.
That’s what immigration reform looks like. Smarter enforcement. A pathway to earned citizenship. Improvements to the legal immigration system. They’re all commonsense steps. They’ve got broad support-- from Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, law enforcement and clergy. So there is no reason that Congress can’t work together to send a bill to my desk by the end of the summer.
We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that. They’ll try to stoke fear and create division. They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed. And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken.
So if you agree that now is the time for commonsense reform, reach out to your Representatives. Tell them we have to get this done so that everyone is playing by the same rules. Tell them we have the power to do this in a way that lives up to our traditions as a nation of laws, and a nation of immigrants.
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