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Progress or Petulance: What Will GOP Choose on Immigration?

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Activists Protest For Immigration ReformRange of Observers Note that Republicans Block Immigration at their Own Peril 

With a Republican Party facing internal schisms and plummeting poll numbers, there is little debate that reform would help the Party politically, especially in its ability to attract Latino voters and broaden its national appeal.  Yet for some Tea Party-allied congressmen like Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), it seems as if President Obama wants something, they are against it – no matter what it means for the nation and even their own Party.

The nation’s leading Spanish language newspaper, La Opinión, has been following GOP promises and progress on immigration issue on a daily basis.  They regularly point out that Latino voters are expecting the GOP to act on immigration reform this year.  As the paper’s editorial team writes today:

The Tea Party’s political influence is a problem for Republicans, who cultivated it when it was useful to battle the White House. Now, it has gotten beyond their control. This presence does not enlarge the party’s tent—it makes it smaller, leaving many voters out, among them Latinos. This does not benefit the Republicans or Hispanics.

In addition to La Opinión, other political analysts have some words of advice for the GOP:

  • Ezra Klein writes in the Washington Post, “getting immigration done, most everyone agrees, would be good for the Republican Party.  It’s possibly necessary for its very survival.  What’s standing in the way isn’t Obama’s determination to destroy the GOP.  It’s the GOP’s determination to destroy itself.  In 2012, 71 percent of Hispanic voters, and 73 percent of Asian voters, marked their ballot for Obama. Those aren’t survivable numbers for the Republican Party…if you talk to White House officials, their belief has long been that immigration reform might be possible precisely because it would help the Republican Party politically and because the Senate was able to craft a bill that conservatives like Marco Rubio found ideologically congenial.  They’ve even tried to keep Obama distant from the process so the Senate Republicans who participated would get much of the credit.  If the price of immigration reform is a more competitive Republican Party in 2016, it’s a price the White House is happy to pay.  But that’s the irony of the GOP right now: They’re so scared that Obama is trying to destroy them that they’re destroying themselves.”
  • Charles Blow writes in his New York Times column, “Republicans have a tough choice.  They can ride shotgun once again with the politically suicidal Tea Party faction, a group that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found this week to be ‘less popular than ever.’  They can allow the most strident voices on the far right that oppose comprehensive immigration reform — Rush Limbaugh has likened it to the Republican Party’s ‘authoring its demise’ — to direct their path and further alienate Hispanic voters, who are increasingly coming to see the party as an unwelcoming place…Or Republicans can take the less likely path and demonstrate that they’ve been cowed enough to move ahead on a major piece of legislation that is supported by the majority of the American people — a July Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Americans believe that passing immigration reform is important.  And that would be good not just for the president’s legacy but for the health of the country as a whole.”
  • Jed Lewison, writing on Daily Kos, “according to [Rep. Raul] Labrador, it would be insane for Republicans to work with President Obama on immigration because Obama is trying to destroy the GOP.  Sure, supporting immigration reform is obviously in the GOP’s long-term political interests (not to mention the right thing to do from a moral perspective), but Obama is trying to destroy the GOP, so therefore the GOP shouldn’t work with him, even though refusing to work with him will hurt them politically, and even though Labrador himself says he believes immigration reform is both necessary and the right thing to do.  All sarcasm aside, Labrador’s position is completely nuts.  Obama isn’t trying to destroy the GOP.  Time and time again, he’s offered them a way out of their mess.  Time and time again, they’ve refused to accept his offers.  And time and time again, they’ve proved they don’t need any help destroying the GOP brand: They’re doing a pretty good job of it all by themselves.”

Perhaps most sobering of all–David Brooks, conservative columnist and pundit, noted on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that “if I were the president, I would go right into immigration reform…If the moderate Republicans or the realistic Republicans are in charge, then they get a big substantive win.  We actually get this immigration reform done.  If the Tea Party is still in charge, then the president gets a big political win because the Republicans will vote it down.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

In the wake of the government shutdown, the House GOP has an opportunity to make progress and regain some political capital by passing immigration reform. Sadly, the whining in recent days suggests they wish to punish themselves instead, preferring pouting and petulance to progress. We hope they see the light and do what they are elected to do: move the nation forward.