Immigration Reform for Real:
This Time, Democrats Better Appear Fighting
History has a ironic taste in turning the table. Last time, Reagan led Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Since then, most of the immigration legislation have fallen short of what Reagan achieved– an immigration reform. This time, we no longer wonder, “What Would the Gipper Do?” After all, the Republican party in the past was different. It had a better balanced composition. In addition, undocumented immigrants had not yet appeared at the present rate, in major cities. Trend of global outsourcing had not ended that many jobs.
Today we ponder, “what would Democrats suffer should they fail to fight for immigration reform?” Please pay attention here, we are not talking about delivery of promises, yet. This article focuses on the consequences of not taking a promised stance. Failure to realize a promise hurts, and failure to take an expected stance hurts even more. Democrats could attribute fault to opponents, should promises fail to realize. Nonetheless, they are left with themselves to blame, should the party as a whole appear not taking a clear and convincing stance in support of immigration reform.
Given the present political terrain, it is Democrats who cannot afford to let down its supporters. That is, all else equal, the opposing party’s supporters would have felt the same strong distaste toward the Democratic message. Democrats really need to focus on appealing its growing rank of supporters, the minorities.
First, Democratic lead among minorities will be in peril, should the nightmare occur. Politico’s “10 Maps That Explain the New Election” explains well. Democrats had been winning on margin by minority votes. Such are the cases for 2012 win, by Hispanic votes, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Four of the listed states are ranked among the top ten populous states. In addition, Hispanic population is the one growing at the most rapid rate. Within population under age 35, Hispanic and Asian population now make up at least 25% of the total population. This time, failure to take a promised stance will really cost dearly. Now are the formative years of the upcoming minority voters. Narratives matter, now, more than ever.
Second, Republicans have an equally compelling case for immigration reform. After all, enterprise owners want more high-skilled immigrants. They can make their case even more appealing, especially if they take the Presidential office in 2016. At that time, Democrats could not even afford to entertain objecting immigration reform. After all, Democrats need to maintain its historical reputation as a pro-minority party. Legacy and honor, however, might be attributed more to Republicans than Democrats. History books by scholars will be accurate, but memories of voters often are not. This will be the second nightmare Democrats will try to avoid.
In short, the table table is turned, while politics remain the same. In politics, a player can always takes more losses than another. Democrats, in this case, cannot take too many losses, as far as voters are concerned. The start of damage control is to articulate a strong stance in national media. Threats of executive actions is a good start. Explicit plans of specific orders may be next, if the President wishes to use up all of his patience, as promised. Inaction is the worst of all and time is limited to correct growing concerns of potential inaction. We will see soon.