Monday, July 22, 2013

Immigration Reform Stalled

Immigration reform is stalling in the House of Representatives due to the particular dynamics of the Republican House caucus and the changing national political environment.

First, the environment. The President is rapidly slipping into the second-term malaise, and a major cause is the near complete lack of accomplishment after his sky-high inaugural address and showy launch of a permanent campaign dedicated to his agenda.

Unfortunately, immigration reform, which combines legislation that addresses what the public believes is needed with the self-interest of both parties and Congress as an institution, is the victim of the President’s decline.

Republicans who have concluded it is important to get immigration reform behind them are beginning to lose colleagues and constituents pleased by the growing sense that Obama could take the party down to major defeat in 2014 and anxious to not give him any legislative victory.

Equally important is the fact the House Republicans’ caucus has at least 60 members who believe immigration reform related to a path to citizenship is bad policy and bad politics regardless of the viewpoint of party leadership or presidential campaign strategists. Critics would say they are a mix of one-third extremists and two-thirds of those fearing a primary.

But regardless of motivation, as of July 2013, the Republican leadership is much more in alignment with public opinion:
  • 71% of Americans believe immigration reform is important to deal with (Gallup, July 11, 2013)
  • 88% believe a path to citizenship is necessary (similar levels of support for e-verify at workplace and better security at border (83% of self-identified conservatives agree) (Gallup, July 11, 2013)
  • 26% satisfied with current government immigration policy (Gallup, July 12, 2013)
Passing immigration reform would be a benefit to Republicans nationally and the institution of the House. They finally get something done.

Gallup: Passing new immigration laws is important to Americans
Gallup: Americans praise gov’t work on natural disasters, parks
The Buzz: Immigration reform: Good for Congress

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