Conservative Democrats Balk at Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Several Senate Democrats fighting for reelection next year are trying to decide whether or not to publically support the President’s immigration proposals for fear it will hurt them at the polls.   Democrats such as Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan  have released carefully-crafted statements that do not show the same level of support as Democrats for more liberal parts of the country.

State by state issue

For the most part, immigration support changes from state to state. Agricultural workers in North Carolina and fishermen in Alaska will be leaning towards legislation that addresses priorities of their own states.  Some politicians lament the focus on immigrants and call for more support for US workers.  As North Carolina Sen. Mary Landrieu mentioned “There’s a lot of bipartisan support for giving access to the work force to people from China and India with Ph.D.s. I’d like to see a little bit more focus on helping some of our own kids get Ph.D.’s.” North Carolina has two main industries, technology and agriculture, that are important for their economy and will be heavily affected depending on which bill passes. Ms. Landrieu will vote for whichever proposal will benefit the domestic-skilled workers. With many universities and high-tech companies located in North Carolina, green-card proposal and temporary-worker programs could make a big difference to their industries. Similar situations are occurring nationwide as legislators are conflicted with voting the way constituents want and voting the way they would like.

Current events may make reelection tough

An immigration overhaul is only one of the tougher votes that the Senate Democrats will have to face.  President Obama may soon be proposing outlines regarding gun control, climate change and increasing the minimum wage. “He did lay out a lot of large agenda items,” said Mr. Pryor. “I don’t agree with everything he said, but I look forward to working with everybody here and trying to find common ground.” He didn’t elaborate on the proposals he disagreed with.

Members of Congress are going to do what’s best for their constituents because that leads to greater job security. Immigration opponents say allowing undocumented workers to stay in the U.S. will hurt low-wage workers who were here first legally. While a Senator’s true goal is probably re-election over everything else, we hope that politicians can put aside those goals for the greater good.

If you have questions regarding immigration reform and how it might affect immigrants in Missouri, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.