Public attitudes must change for immigration reform to happen

December 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Two-thirds of voters have consistently told Quinnipiac University national polls that immigration policy should move toward stricter enforcement of the law rather than integrating illegal immigrants into American society. A Gallup poll, however, taken on the eve of the November election found a bare majority favored a law along the lines of the Dream Act. It’s also true that majorities have supported Arizona’s law that allows police to ask about a person’s immigration status, and many state legislatures could pass similar bills in the coming year. The Arizona law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge but the issue is working its way through the courts and like many other hot issues seems destined for the Supreme Court. All of which indicates that it will take a much larger public move toward such legislation to get a GOP House of Representatives to back it. Just consider Jon Tester, a Democratic U.S. senator from Montana, who was among those who crossed party and Hispanic leaders by voting against the Dream Act. His spokesman, Aaron Murphy, told Politico: “As someone who comes home every weekend, he votes based on what’s right for Montana, not on outside pressure from one side of any issue.” Rough translation: For Sen. Tester, who is up for re-election in 2012, voting to legalize illegal immigrants would be political poison. If the Dream Act backers can’t win solid Democratic support they stand little chance with Republicans. President Obama may be telling Hispanic leaders he’ll continue to push for “comprehensive” immigration reform, and he made an emotional pitch for it in his end-of-the-year news conference. But until he and they can change public attitudes the way gay advocates did with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” don’t look for him to succeed anytime soon. (Peter Brown wall st journal blogs)

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