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“Can You Say “Whig’s”: The Only Thing For Republicans To Fear Is Never Getting Elected Again

Ah, bipartisanship. Can you smell it? Well it’s in the air again, as a group of eight senators (for the love of god, can we not call them a “gang”?), four Democrats and four Republicans, unveiled a proposal for immigration reform. It includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (an even faster one for seasonal agricultural workers, because what, do you expect native-born Americans to spend 10 hours a day bending over in the hot sun?), measures to improve the legal immigration system, and efforts to attract skilled immigrants. The proposal also stipulates that the path to citizenship would only happen after the implementation of stricter border enforcement, but one of the great unacknowledged developments of recent years is that border enforcement is far more vigorous than it used to be. We’ve got more Border Patrol agents making more arrests, and Barack Obama has deported people much faster than George W. Bush did (there were more than 400,000 deportations in 2012, a new record).

Immigration reform is looking rather likely to pass through Congress, and there’s one reason: fear. Republicans are terrified that unless they do something to reverse their abysmal performance among Latino voters in the last election, they could go the way of the Whigs. So even though most of them don’t really want to do it, enough of them could grit their teeth and vote yes on a comprehensive immigration reform package.

And that’s how bipartisanship happens: not when everyone realizes that they love their country more than they love their party, or when the cries of the public for comity in Congress become too loud, or even when a problem gets too big (as it happens, after years of steady increases, the number of undocumented immigrants has been stagnant since the Great Recession hit, mostly because there were fewer available jobs drawing immigrants here). Bipartisanship happens when preferences and raw political interest align to give both parties something they want or think they need. The Democrats have long wanted comprehensive immigration reform, and the Republicans now see it in their interest.

 

By: Paul Waldman and Jamie Fuller, The American Prospect, January 28, 2013

January 29, 2013 - Posted by | Immigration | , , , , , , , ,

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