Immigration Reform in 2010?

The indispensible blog of Ben Smith at has a posting up about immigration reform. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is evidently threatening to withhold support for the health care reform unless the congressional leadership and the White House pledge themselves to moving the immigration issue this year.

It was one of the least remarked aspects of the health care vote in the U.S. House that the Republican motion to recommit would have passed if they had focused it on the immigration provisions of the bill, and kept all their troops in line. Liberal, Hispanic Democrats and conservative Republicans would have been voting for different reasons, of course, with conservatives wanting stricter prohibitions on immigrant access to health care and liberals wanting less punitive measures. But, Hispanic members of Congress are indicating now that they will not have their votes taken for granted.


The Democrats have a very selfish reason for supporting immigration reform this year. The party in power traditionally has trouble getting its troops to the polls, fulfilling the old axiom that nothing motivates voters better than anger and hatred at those in power. Moderate and conservative Democrats may worry that moving on immigration reform, in addition to health care reform, is only going to jeopardize their chances at re-election, but I suspect the opposite is the case. First, there is probably a lot of overlap between the tea party crowd and the nativist anti-immigration groups. Second, Democrats do not currently have any group of the electorate that is as motivated as the tea party crowd and motivating Hispanic voters will be a lot easier if Democrats successfully pass immigration reform.

There may be some Democrats in districts where Latinos are not a significant portion of the electorate, but in an off-year election, when voter turnout is low, a few percentage points here or there can make a big difference. While the Latino vote is already decisive in several key districts in Florida and the Southwest, and where the immigration issue costs Republicans several congressional seats in 2006, there are significant Latino populations throughout the U.S.

The problem with moving immigration reform right now is that the unemployment rate is still at 10 percent and a guest worker program must necessarily be a part of any comprehensive immigration reform. The possibilities for conservative demagoguery are infinite. But, if the unemployment rate drops to 9 percent and appears to be continuing on a downward trajectory, the Democrats should proceed with immigration reform forthwith. Besides, it is the right thing to do.


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
James Lindsay
9 years ago
It is the right thing to do, and if the Republicans don't behave themselves in the debate, and I suspect they won't, it will lead to the long term demise of their party, since the people on a track to citizenship today will be the new voters in the South and West in the not too distant future. Demography is destiny on this issue. Either anchor babies will dominate in a twenty years or new citizens in ten. Either way, the die is cast and the Republicans have only themselves to blame.
9 years ago
If anyone knows any HISTORY of America or shall I say before it became America it was where the Native Americans lived so who are the real immigrants we are the the pilgrims that came to this country and took over are the immigrants you did not see Native Americans trying any reform they just took it from them and now we call anyone from another country immigrants when this country was and still is built on immigrants. Many of us do not realize or have lost sight of that so please pay attention and school and make this a better country to live in. PASS IMMIGRATION REFORM THIS YEAR. A COUNTRY MADE FROM IMMIGRANTS
Martin Williams
9 years ago
Happy new year to everyone.Im not spanish Im 4 generations German that born here.Right now what our nation the US need is to regain his economic and intellectual leader on the world.Therefore we need to legalize undocumented who live in good behavier .Why?because they all have children here(Us citizen) and right know they all are tired by being considere bad.They will took their belonging and immigrate to Cannada with those children that US gave skill and high education.We all from both side have to support this reform.And again hystory is here to confirm my comment.Thank to everyboby.May GOD bless America
Thomas Piatak
9 years ago
It is simply immoral to continue to import workers from foreign countries when so many Americans are unemployed or underemployed.
david power
9 years ago
with all respect what you say sounds like Morality has a preference for Americans.The Immigration reform is or would be a piece of legislation not only for the moment but for the long -term also when America may have a strong economy again.The argument about unemployment could be used forever as there will always be the unemployed,like the poor.It could have been used(and probably was)against the Irish and Italians who stole the work of good Americans at the start of the last century.I am sure even the good samaritan knew a few close friends or even a brother who could have used a few bob when he squandered it at the inn.Impractical maybe,but immoral could be said with anger but not reason.A reform could be a victory for commonsense more than being a moral triumph.


The latest from america

Protestors march to support a U.N. anti-corruption commission in Guatemala City on Jan. 6. Photo by Jackie McVicar.
“What they are doing not only puts Guatemala at risk but the entire region. Bit by bit, for more than a year, they have been trying to divide us. The elections are at risk. We are six months away.”
Jackie McVicarJanuary 18, 2019
“We will just do what we need to do to help people in need,” said Antonio Fernandez, C.E.O. of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Emma Winters January 18, 2019
The study found Latina immigrant women in Arizona who were pregnant during the contentious S.B. 1070 passage had babies with lower birthweight compared with those in prior years. Average birth weights did not decrease among U.S.-born white, black or Latina women during the same time.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 18, 2019
This week's guest is Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, a pro-life feminist organization dedicated to changing the divisive language surrounding the abortion debate.
Olga SeguraJanuary 18, 2019