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ICYMI: Conservative Thought Leader and Republican Political Operative Agree: Now is the Time for the GOP to Pass Immigration Reform

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George Will and Rob Jesmer Sound the Alarm

Conservative intellectual George Will, the widely-read syndicated columnist, and Republican political operative Rob Jesmer, former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), are in agreement that the Republican Party needs to move forward on immigration reform this year.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

As these key conservatives point out, the idea that House Republicans can play politics and put off immigration reform for another year is both a misreading of what’s best for conservatism and what’s best for the GOP’s political future.

George Will writes, in a new column titled, “Why Immigration Reform Matters,” that Republicans have essential political and policy reasons to embrace immigration reform:

Many Republicans say addressing immigration will distract from a winning focus on Obamacare.  But a mature party avoids monomania, and Obamacare’s manifold defects are obvious enough that voters will not require nine more months of reminders.

Many Republicans say immigration policy divides their party.  If, however, the party becomes a gaggle of veto groups enforcing unanimities, it will become what completely harmonious parties are: small.

Many Republicans see in immigrants only future Democratic votes.  This descent into Democratic-style identity politics is unworthy of Republicans, and unrealistic.  U.S. history tells a consistent story — the party identified with prosperity, and hence opportunity, prospers.

Many Republicans have understandable cultural concerns, worrying that immigrants from this hemisphere do not experience the ‘psychological guillotine’ that severed trans-Atlantic immigrants from prior allegiances.  But are there data proving that U.S. culture has lost its assimilative power?  Thirty-five percent of illegal adult immigrants have been here at least 15 years, 28 percent for 10 to 14 years and only 15 percent for less than five years.  Thirty-five percent own their homes. Are we sure they are resisting assimilation?

Opposition to immigration because the economy supposedly cannot generate sufficient jobs is similar defeatism.  Zero-sum reasoning about a fixed quantity of American opportunity is for a United States in a defensive crouch, which is not for conservatives.

Meanwhile, former NRSC Executive Director Rob Jessmer outlined for Washington Post writer Greg Sargent the political reasons for why the Republican Party should move forward with immigration reform:

It’s easier to do it now, than to do it later.  Presidential politics will consume our party, which will make it more difficult to get it passed.  The quicker we start, the quicker we’ll get it behind us.  We will severely diminish our chances of winning the presidential election in 2016 if this isn’t solved.

I don’t see any data that suggests that this would increase Democratic chances of holding the Senate.  The idea that someone who is sitting at home mad at the president about Obamacare is going to wake up in October and say, ‘I’m really mad that Republicans voted to solve the immigration mess, so I’m not going to vote’ — I just find that to be ridiculous.

What people are really saying is, ‘Things are going really well now so we can’t do it.  Are we supposed to wait until things are not going well?  It’s never going to be easy to do this, because we have many in our party, and many outside forces, who will oppose this whether we do it tomorrow, next month, next year, or 10 years from now.

Concluded Sharry:

The House Republicans have to realize that it’s now or never with respect to immigration reform.  Here’s what’s predictable if they thwart the bipartisan majority that exists in the House today: Republicans will cement their anti-Latino, anti-immigrant reputation, President Obama will step in and protect most of the undocumented through executive action, and 2016 could turn out to be a political disaster for the Republican party.  As George Will and Rob Jesmer point out, the time for reform is now.