With Hispanics and other minorities voting overwhelming with President Barack Obama and the Democratic party, a shift appears to be underway among some Republicans. According to a piece on The Hill regarding this Republican shift states that “The comments from [John] Boehner and other Republicans suggesting movement on immigration reform reflect broad fears within the party that it is cutting itself off from the fast-growing constituency.” Immigration reform has created a dichotomy for GOP members as they debate what is to be done while trying to minimalize the damage to constituents and possible supporters for future elections.
Conservative talk show host, Sean Hannity, recently announced on his radio show that his view on immigration reform has shifted in favor of granting immigrants a “pathway to citizenship.” Similarly, Speaker Boehner stated that a comprehensive approach on the issue is long overdue. While two prominent and well-known figures aligned with the Republican Party are shifting their views, this is not to say that the entire GOP is convinced. Many fear their alternate view on immigration will sever them from their previously loyal constituency and change the basic belief of what the Republican Party is purportedly founded on. Conversely, the GOP could potentially be gaining Hispanic voters who ended up helping Obama win the election by 40 percentage points.
Rush Limbaugh, the only conservative talker with more listeners than Hannity, feels that the immigration reform Republicans are promoting will not help to gain any Hispanic voters. “Hispanics are moving to Democrats not because of immigration but because of the party’s positions on taxes and welfare. Allowing those in the United States illegally to stay wouldn’t help the party, he argued.” Many fear that the way the decision on immigration reform will be decided will be based on whether Republicans feel that they will be reelected in their districts rather than it being the right thing to do for the immigrants wanting to come to the U.S. and the 11 million already here.
The arguments will continue next week during the lame duck session when lawmakers return to Washington. The last serious push for immigration reform occurred in 2006 during the Bush administration. Both Republicans and Democrats disagreed on the plan that was proposed and eventually conservative talk shows took up the cause against “amnesty.” However, this time around might prove a different outcome because so many prominent Republicans are changing their minds publicly. That’s not to say border hawks will not largely contribute to the outcome. Those that have spent years on working to tighten the border against undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. will not give up easily. No matter the reasoning behind why some lawmakers are changing their views on immigration, border hawks will not support the idea of amnesty. They have previously voiced their opinions and have caused turmoil within the Republican Party and no one expects it to be different this time around.
According to Pat Buchanan, a longtime opponent of amnesty, “If leadership attempts to move in this direction there will be an internal battle on this, it'll be very vocal and it'll be very national.” In spite of the apprehensions of the clashes that are just beginning, it is important to note that some GOP members are willing to consider immigration reform. Hopefully with more influential voices advocating for amnesty and pushing for changes in the current system, lawmakers can come to a compromise.
We discussed this issue of the split in the Republican Party on last week’s inaugural podcast of Homeward Bound. If you have questions regarding how immigration reform can impact you or applying for amnesty, contact us at 314-961-8200.