Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Roadblocks for Immigration Reform

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Wonkblog's Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas note that the Gang of Eight's immigration-reform plan is facing trouble in the Senate:

On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News that the bill didn’t have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate. In fact, right now, the immigration bill doesn’t even have his vote. In part, that’s because of “how little confidence people have that the federal government will enforce the law.”

So Rubio is working on making the law harder to enforce. Politico reports that Rubio has partnered with Sen. John Cornyn on a sweeping amendment that would require “stricter border patrol provisional ‘triggers’ before registered immigrants are allowed to apply for green card status. His amendment would require 100 percent operational control of the Southern borders and that 90 percent of illegal border crossers be apprehended. It would also require 100 percent border surveillance, or situational awareness, of each one-mile segment of the Southern border and installment of a national E-Verify system before registered immigrants can pursue green cards.”

That sure sounds as if no one is ever getting a green card. That level of operational control — unless operational control is defined quite far down — is nearly impossible. And that’s the Senate bill. That will be the more immigrant-friendly pole in this debate.

WaPo's Aaron Blake looks at the political implications:

The poll shows 54 percent of Americans support a path to citizenship, while 29 percent favor deporting illegal immigrants. (Other polls, we should note, have shown even stronger support for a path to citizenship.)

Yet, when it comes to how Congressional members’ votes would actually affect their chances of reelection, it’s a total wash. About a quarter of those polled (26 percent) say they are more likely to support a member if he or she supports a path to citizenship, and about a quarter (24 percent) say they are less likely to support him or her.

The numbers closely match those from this month’s Washington Post-ABC News poll, which showed 58 percent supported a path to citizenship. When it boiled down to it, though, just 23 percent said they supported a path to citizenship and could not vote for someone who opposed it, and 24 percent said they opposed a path and could not vote for someone who supported it.

In other words, there’s not much to be lost — individually and in the near term, at least — for congressional Republicans who oppose immigration reform, even as a strong majority of Americans support that goal. It’s the same phenomenon we saw with gun control, where opponents were much more adamant — and punitive — than proponents.

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