A year ago Friday marked the one year anniversary since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with bipartisan support. Of course, because the House of Representatives has been held hostage by an extreme faction of the Republican Party for the last few years, the measure has been stuck in inaction this entire time. Tea Party Republicans have refused to allow immigration reform to move forward in the House in order to appeal to the most racist and bigoted sectors of their voting base.
Despite the fact that the majority of Americans, and a large portion of Republicans, feel that undocumented immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship. the Tea Party has refused to budge. Even though many influential leaders in the business, financial and agricultural fields have come out and supported comprehensive immigration reform, the extremely conservative wing of the House doesn’t care. Heck, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the passage of the Senate’s immigration bill will cut federal budget deficits by $158 billion over the next decade. Regardless, these supposed ‘fiscal conservatives’ will not allow this bill to see the House floor.
Besides the obvious racial issues at play behind the Tea Party’s objections to anything that helps non-white immigrants become citizens, the other major reason they are fighting this tooth and nail is their fear that Democrats will reap the rewards of immigration reform for decades to come. The fact is, the vast majority of Hispanics and Asians in this country vote for the Democratic Party. The far-right is worried that giving millions of undocumented immigrants an opportunity to step out of the shadows and into the light will basically mean the GOP will never be able to win the White House. Especially when you consider that today’s GOP essentially only appeals to old white people who hate government and brown people with equal zeal.
Therefore, rather than change their policies and approach, and attempt to be more inclusive in their vision, Republicans, and especially the Tea Party (though it is becoming harder and harder to differentiate between the two), have decided to just keep pushing against the tide of change and embrace the hate and bigotry that has become their hallmark. I guess the feeling is that they just need to appeal to their ever-shrinking base and make sure that they can somehow show up to vote in greater numbers than the much larger section of the country that rejects their vision. It is obviously a Quixotic plan, and is destined to fail, but in the here and now, it might allow them to win elections and hold on to majorities in gerrymandered voting districts.
However, it appears that the tide might be changing now in certain House races. In a key race in Colorado, Democratic candidate Andrew Romanoff has been hammering his opponent, incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, on his record and rhetoric when it comes to immigration issues. The AP ran a story on Friday detailing how the GOP’s lack of action on immigration may very well cost them this House seat, as well as doom Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner in his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. On his campaign website, Romanoff has a list of Coffman’s actions and statements regarding immigration reform since taking office. Currently, this election is seen as a toss-up. However, if Coffman loses, a key factor will be his stance on immigration.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, Democratic candidate Erin Bilbray has also gone for the throat when it comes to highlighting her opponent’s views and voting record on immigration reform. Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) has called comprehensive immigration reform a “political gimmick” and has refused to go against the radical wing of the House GOP. In response to this, Bilbray made the following statement:
“Joe Heck is more intent on protecting his out-of-state, billionaire super-pac friends than families in Southern Nevada that are being torn apart every day by our immigration policies. After a year of excuses, inaction and talking out of both sides of their mouth on immigration reform it is time for Congressman Heck and the Republican leadership to act on immigration reform. Immigration reform is not a Latino issue or an Asian Pacific Islander issue, it’s a community issue and Southern Nevada families deserve a representative who will stand up and fight for them in Congress.”
Much like Colorado’s 6th District race, this one is also seen as a toss-up. This district, along with Coffman’s, went for President Obama in 2012. With both incumbents being seen as out-of-touch with the rest of the country on immigration and part of the problem in Congress, it looks very possible, if not likely, that these two seats will flip to the Democrats.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).