Thursday, January 31, 2013

Golden Opportunity? Or Yellow Flag?

Ah, the times... They are a changin'. I wonder if Bob Dylan ever saw this coming.

The Nevada Republican Party has come out in favor of immigration reform including a path to citizenship.

That's what The Atlantic's (and former Nevada based reporter) Molly Ball just tweeted. I wonder why they released this statement today. I'm sure it has nothing to do with providing cover for Dean Heller, and potentially Joe Heck, to support comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). (/snark)

I mean, it couldn't be that Nevada Republicans are desperate...

“Why the sudden change, Republicans?” Jon Stewart said. “Perhaps you looked into your hearts and realized that people who are willing to risk prison or worse just to do our least glamorous, most dangerous work deserve at least a basic level of humanity.”

Or, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) put it recently, Republicans lost the Hispanic vote badly in 2012.

“Okay, or that,” Stewart said. “That’s another reason. Craven political calculation to squeeze out enough votes to make Nevada competitive again. Okay, that’s okay, too. Not sure that’s the reason you’re supposed to say out loud, but you’ve come a long way. Well, you’ve come a way. Yes, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward shamelessness.”

Party leaders must be waking up & smelling the political napalm. They don't want to be seen as obstructing progress. And they don't want to risk forever alienating the vast majority of Latin@ voters.

However, there's a problem with their plan. Their base still wants nothing to do with CIR.

Echoing the 47 percent rhetoric that plagued Mitt Romney during the election, immigration opponents have panned the Senate framework for a tough road to legalization as “amnesty” or a “pointless” attempt to attract Latinos to the Republican party.

Many of these groups played a role in defeating the last attempt at immigration reform in 2007. Numbers USA, a group founded by anti-immigration activist John Tanton, slammed the Senate discussions as “amnesty 2.0″ and pledged to defeat it, while another of Tanton’s groups, FAIR, directed membership to tell Congress “how ridiculous it is.”

The National Review rejected immigration reform as “pointless” in a staff editorial, where they claimed Hispanics would never be welcomed in the Republican party [...]

Some Republican lawmakers have rejected reform, as well. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) called Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) “naive” and “nuts” to allow a path for legalization, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took a predictably similar hard line. As the House begins to craft its own plan, longtime reform opponents Lamar Smith (R-TX), the former House Judiciary Chair and Lou Barletta (R-PA) claimed it amounted to “amnesty.”

As we've discussed before, the "TEA" driven Republican base still can't stand CIR. And it may still cause a major obstacle in the House. That's why national Republican leaders have been trying desperately to quell "tea party" anger and extremism on immigration. But will assurances from the likes of Marco Rubio and John McCain be enough to stop the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter from stirring up "tea party" opposition to CIR? This is the dilemma that both Nevada Republicans and national Republicans still face.

And then, there's the actual policy behind the politics. While some Republican politicians suddenly want to look "moderate" on CIR, it's still an open question as to how they will actually vote. Take, for instance, what John McCain has actually said about addressing the plight of LGBTQ families in what's supposed to be comprehensive immigration reform.

The United States is home to at least 28,500 same-sex couples in which one partner is a citizen and the other is not, but federal law does not recognize these relationships and prohibits gay and lesbian couples from seeking visas on the basis of same-sex unions. The Obama administration’s framework would allow couples to apply for visas on the basis of their permanent unions, while the bipartisan senate principles do not.

“I think it is a red herring. I think then, do we want to guarantee a tax payer free abortion?” McCain asked in response to a question about the provision from Politico’s Mike Allen. “I’m telling you now, if you love this up with social issues and things that are controversial, the it will endanger the issue. ”

He added, “I’ll be glad to talk about, discuss it, what the ramifications are, but if someone does that as the most important aspect of comprehensive immigration reform, then we just have a fundamental disagreement.” “Which is more important, LGBT or border security?” McCain finally said.

Oh yes, he actually said that. Is he really that dense? Sorry, but this makes me question just how committed he and these other Republican "Gang of 8" Senators actually are to comprehensive immigration reform. Couple this with what Marco Dubious told Rush Limbaugh said about earned citizenship earlier this week, and we at least have some yellow flags worth monitoring.

And this may very well add to Dean Heller's dilemma. Earlier today, Harry Reid met with President Obama to discuss CIR. He's apparently cool with the President's blueprint, and the "Gang of 8" Democrats will face pressure from progressives who'd like for their plan to adhere closely to it. If progressives succeed on matters like a real pathway to citizenship and addressing LGBTQ immigrants, will Heller still support the bill? Or will he fall prey to the "tea party" siren song of "NO ILLEGALS!!!"?

So are Nevada Republicans truly evolving on CIR? And for that matter, are national Republicans? Their recent flowery language will be put to the test this spring.

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