Last week, President Obama declared legislative immigration dead and chastised House Republicans for killing it. Since then, a slew of commentators have pointed out what a huge demographic mistake the GOP has made in not passing immigration reform. After all, Republicans are now sure to head into the next presidential election without having done anything to attract Latino voters — and in multiple instances, have done things to positively repel them. That’s likely to mean another White House shutout for them in 2016, if not for many years beyond that as well. That’s the subject of a Chicago Tribune op-ed published Rep. Luis Gutierrez last weekend. Read the full op-ed here or a selection below:
In taking no action, Republicans are choosing to forfeit the White House in order to hold power in the House of Representatives. They are ending any chance conservatives have to sit in the Oval Office, control the executive branch, set foreign policy or nominate Supreme Court justices for decades to come.
That’s obviously very good news for Hillary Clinton or any competent candidate the Democrats nominate in 2016 or for the next few decades. The math is stark. In 2012, Mitt Romney won a larger percentage of the white vote than any other candidate — including Ronald Reagan — but lost the presidential election by 5 million votes. Blocking immigration reform will not help the GOP be competitive with Asian and Latino voters. Republicans don’t have to win them over, but they cannot get creamed by 40 points and get the Electoral College majority.
Latino voters have shown that the exercise of their citizenship is intertwined with our nation’s treatment of noncitizens. Today, an estimated 2,000 American-born Latino citizens will turn 18, and 2,000 will turn 18 tomorrow and every day for the next decade. They will remember which party demonized immigrants and made legal immigration more difficult.
The vast majority of Americans who favor humane immigration policies will not patiently wait until January 2017 for a change in the way this country treats immigrants and their families. Now that Republicans have failed to act, the focus will be on what President Barack Obama can do within existing law to keep families together, target record-breaking deportations on actual criminals and security threats, and make due process and humanity the rule in our immigration system. No president, especially Obama, wants to go down in history as the one who deported the most immigrants. He will act boldly this year, within the confines of our out-of-date laws, to add rationality to our irrational immigration and deportation system.