Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Question for Liberals

What do you see happening with immigration policy if Barack Obama wins a second term?


  1. Nothing. Despite recent tough talk by Harry Reid, the Democrats don't have the guts to abolish the filibuster if they even retain the Senate. I see no reason to think the GOP is going to suddenly decide to stop opposing everything Obama proposes in his second term. Hence immigration reform is DOA.

  2. I think it depends on the party composition of Congress. I think it's really tough to see an Obama-supported immigration bill getting through a GOP House. Any GOPer that votes for it would need to be prepared to look for new work when the primary comes around. On the Senate side, I think things are a little more promising. There are probably enough GOP senators who are anxious to see this issue settled so that they can start to expand their constituencies to include minorities. So long as Hispanics care about immigration, they are tough for the GOP whose bigger priority is their base. If Hispanics care less about immigration- game changer. But again, you need to play long-ball (not two year election cycles) for that to happen. Another complicating factor will be the Presidential primary. A future candidate (e.g., Rubio) who supports it would need a great explanation. It would be his "obamneycare."

    But overall, my sense is the Hispanic Democratic Party officials want to deliver to their base and the GOP high-command wants to see some resolution to the issue. That could be promising. But I also think that immigration is very, very important to the narrative that's fed to the GOP base.

    If Romney is President, I don't know from where he would get the political capital within his own party to push the issue, at least early in his term. On the other hand, I think it would be quite sharp for him to go for broke on the issue and let the far-right push him to the middle.

  3. I actually think a resolution of this issue is likely in the next term and am surprised one hasn't passed yet.

    Regardless of the views of the GOP base, which is strongly hostile towards immigration, the party elite still supports more immigration because it strengthens management vs labor.

    There is almost total elite consensus in both parties in favor of immigration reform. Elite consensus is much more important than the views of the population. Free trade always wins in Congress despite it being at best neutral in popularity with people because the elites want it.

    1. That free trade comparisson is so interesting; never thought of that. As you can see above, I agree with you that consensus among the political class seems to put immigration reform in the range of the possible. The issue is just totally toxic with the talk radio listners out there (much more than free trade, I think). One possibility is that if Romney wins-and I know this wasn't the question- that he could propose an immigration reform that the center-left Dems don't like. Their opposition could help Romney keep his cred with the GOP.

  4. More movement from the executive branch to change things, particularly around enforcement. Just like we saw a few months ago. I doubt we will see major legislation passed. The GOP would undoubtedly filibuster any sort of legislative reform.

  5. I think Obama wants to take a crack at normalizing illegal immigrants. The unprecedented immigration enforcement in his first term was probably intended to help make it easier to pass reform. Unfortunately, I don't think the same motive can explain his drug enforcement policy.

  6. I am rather pessimistic. Doing anything is difficult with all of the various veto points. Assuming Obama wins, what change is there to the dynamic? If anything, the Republicans in Congress will be more hostile, as in primary after primary, the fire-breather carries the day. If every Republican is afraid to make any deal, then how can there be a deal? I just don't see it. So I could see more movement in the executive branch, as stated above. But I would be (pleasantly) surprised at any decent legislation about this.

  7. Obama will renew the Exec Order before the 2014 and 2016 elections, each time making it somewhat more generous than before. Republicans will eventually catch on that they're losing the Hispanic vote and support something, but it has to be more generous than the EO or Dems will have no incentive to support it. That's part of the reason why Repubs are so mad about the EO.

    My question: how many undocumented migrants are Asian? Is this another potential fault line?


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