maybe it’s kinda early to know what lies in store for immigration reform
November 4, 2010 § Leave a comment
(Tamar Jacoby) We won’t know until the new Congress convenes in January, if then. Don’t get me wrong. The pessimists aren’t imagining things: There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. All talk of compromise is likely to be just that — empty talk, and worse, a partisan weapon through the lame duck session and into next year. So what might change in January? Why talk of hope? Two reasons: divided government and the looming presidential election of 2012, which neither party can win without Latino voters. As every political junkie knows, Latinos are the nation’s fastest growing voting block. Because of where they live, concentrated in a few swing states, they were a crucial piece — some say the crucial piece — of Obama’s 2008 margin of victory. Immigration reform is a litmus-test issue, and because of immigration, in recent years many Latinos have soured on Republicans. This week, Latinos turned out in healthy numbers and voted overwhelmingly Democratic — often by margins of more than 30 percent. Republicans aren’t blind to this arithmetic. Indeed, the number who are paying attention has grown substantially in the past few years. Those who have their eye on national elections — think presidential hopefuls — are particularly concerned. And three Latino Republicans made big news this week: the new Cuban-American senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, along with two new Western governors, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Long story short, the mood in January may feel less like 2009 than 1995, when Republican majorities worked well with a Democratic president to pass landmark legislation on welfare reform. This doesn’t mean immigration reform will be easy. Far from it. Republicans aren’t going to sign onto a pre-cooked Democratic deal. Trying to box them in with one — as the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did repeatedly this year — may work as a political gambit, but it won’t produce new law.