Friday, January 25, 2013

Why President Obama Will Return to Nevada

Next week, President Obama will be returning to Las Vegas. And he'll be talking immigration reform. Even as Congress seems to be talking up various immigration bills, President Obama will be making his case directly to the American people. And that effort will begin here in Southern Nevada.

President Barack Obama announced after a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus [CHC] on Friday that he will lay out some of his plans for immigration reform [CIR] on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Members of the caucus who were present at the meeting said Obama assured them that he shares the group's basic beliefs about immigration reform, most notably that making a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants -- which some Republicans oppose -- is an absolute must as they push for legislation.

"The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship," the administration in a statement. "The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay." [...]

The members of the caucus said in statements after the meeting that they laid out their principles and were told by the White House that the ideas align with the administration's planned policies.

"[W]e have made it crystal clear that any bill that does not include a pathway to earned citizenship will not have our support," Hinjosa said. "In the next few weeks and months, the CHC will remain committed to CIR and dedicate all our efforts to ensure legislation will make it to President Obama's desk."

The Associated Press reported that the White House will launch an effort on immigration next week,as will a bipartisan group of senators, likely the so-called "gang of eight" -- four Republicans, four Democrats -- who have already begun to work toward a deal.

The Hispanic Caucus wanted to ensure that President Obama is committed to CIR, and the President did just that. Already, top Congressional Republicans are changing their tune... Again. Even after inching towards supporting CIR earlier this month, they now seem to be reverting to form in advocating "second class citizenship" again. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) even called on Democrats to denounce unions (??!!) because they're advocating a pathway to real citizenship.

This is probably why President Obama is taking it to the streets. With some Republicans in Congress again playing political games with millions of families' lives, he wants the people to turn up the pressure on Members of Congress to do the right thing. And he actually already has the vast majority of the American people on his side.

A solid 77 percent of voters favor a full package of immigration reforms, including a roadmap to citizenship, according to a poll of 1,000 voters conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm. The poll --sponsored by Service Employees International Union, America's Voice Education Fund, and National Immigration Forum -- confirms our strong belief that fixing the broken immigration system is not just a Latino priority, but also a high priority for the American people. A long-lasting program with accountability and a path to citizenship is what voters want; and it is not the third rail of politics that politicians have long feared. [...]

In every region of our nation -- north, east, west and the conservative South, where states such as Alabama and Georgia approved racial profiling, anti-immigrant laws -- voters say they are more likely to vote for their member of Congress if the member has voted for the complete reform plan that has been outlined. Republicans and Democrats want their representatives to vote for immigration reform and consider it a high priority, even with all other major issues Congress has on its plate.

The respondents also rejected the argument advanced by opponents that the immigration reform would allow immigrants to take jobs away from Americans. Instead, 60 percent of White voters, 61 percent of African American voters, and 71 percent of Latino voters agreed that America is stronger when immigrants get legal, pay taxes, and become part of society.

We already know Harry Reid considers CIR as one of his top priorities in the 113th Congress. It just remains to be seen if Dean Heller will come on board, and if there's any chance of Joe Heck or Mark Amodei coming on board. That's probably why President Obama is coming here first to tout immigration reform.

It already looks like Republicans are again fearing "tea party" blowback for backing CIR. But as we've discussed before, they likely have even more to lose by killing it in Congress. That's something Dean Heller and other Nevada Republicans must keep in mind as President Obama returns to Nevada next week. Do they really want to alienate Latinos and other minority communities to the point of becoming a "permanent minority party" here and nationally?

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