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Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 3: "Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

Written by Stanley Renshon,

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The Republican establishment, as it might be called, consists of its "professional class" — past and present political office holders, Robert Gittelson Legalize All Illegal Aliensconsultants, pundits, heads of various Republican constituency groups, and associated think tanks and personnel. Collectively, they might be considered the Republican Washington establishment (even if not all its members are physically in the capital). They are, generally, in favor of immigration reform, and have endorsed Republican support for the 2013 Senate Democratic bill, some vociferously.

One Robert Gittelson is a case in point. Mr. Gittelson heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which touts itself as "America's Largest Hispanic Christian Evangelical Organization". Its membership consists substantially of immigrants. He is also the president of the ironically named Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, whose basic focus is the legalization of the entire illegal migrant population, and is not beyond impugning the morals and motives of those who disagree with him.

Writing recently in the pages of The Hill, Mr. Gittelson said this:

The Republican Party can forget about winning the 2016 presidential election if they do not make definitive progress in wooing both Hispanic and Asian voters to vote Republican. It is that simple.

Further, if Republicans do not pass immigration reform this year, Democrats will not allow Republicans to pass their conservative version of immigration reform in 2015 or 2016, because they will have no incentive to allow Republicans to do anything that will allow the Republicans to make inroads with immigrant voting blocks [sic] heading into the presidential elections.

Therefore, logic dictates that this year, 2014, is the last chance for Republicans to achieve any type of immigration reform that adheres to their more conservative members' values. If they elect to punt on immigration until next year, their punt will be blocked. There is no chance that the Democrats will do anything in 2015 or 2016 that will allow the Republicans to demonstrate to immigrants that the Republicans care about them.

His analysis begins with an alarmist threat. If Republicans don't make "definitive progress" toward wooing "both Hispanic and Asian Voters", they will not put a Republican in the White House in 2016. And how is the "definitive progress" to be accomplished? Well, Mr. Gittelson doesn't say directly, but he then slides over to another, presumably related argument: "[I]f Republicans do not pass immigration reform this year, Democrats will not allow Republicans to pass their conservative version of immigration reform in 2015 or 2016, because they will have no incentive to allow Republicans to do anything that will allow the Republicans to make inroads with immigrant voting blocs heading into the presidential elections."

So Mr. Gittelson's analysis, such as it is, advises Republicans to pass a House bill this year. That period includes the congressional midterm elections in November that might find the GOP having a majority in both Houses. Mr. Gittelson does not discuss that distinct possibility or its implications. Instead, what looms large in his analysis is that Democrats might not agree to an immigration bill if the Republicans wait until 2015 when the new Congress is seated.

And since Republicans must make serious inroads into "immigrant voting blocks" and since the only way to do that is with a Democratic immigration bill, like the one that would very likely come out of a House-Senate conference committee in 2014, that is what Republicans must do to be competitive with "immigrant voting blocks" in 2016.

There are so many gaps in this analysis that it hardly qualifies for the term. It is, for example, totally unclear that Democrats will block a GOP immigration bill in 2015 should the Republicans gain control of the House and Senate. Nor is it clear that the president, desperately in need of more items to add to his threadbare legacy cloak, wouldn't sign a Republican bill that contained some legalization provisions.

Moreover, if Republicans pass a bill in both Houses of Congress that contains a path for legalization, and the president refuses to sign it, will all the blame fall on Republicans? That is unlikely and especially so if they don't lose their voice and the courage of their convictions.

And what if the president says he would sign such a bill. What would Democrats do then?

Mr. Gittelson's dire warnings qualify as assertions, not analysis. They are meant to goad Republicans into hasty action that will benefit neither the Republican Party, the public interest, or the interests of ordinary Americans.

But they just might benefit his organization's hope for increased Hispanic immigrant membership, which is one reason that conservatives are legitimately skeptical of establishment claims to be acting in the party's best interests.

Next: Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 4: The Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Renshon has been a Center Fellow since 1999 and an expert in the areas of citizenship, national identity and the psychology of immigration. He has testified before Congress several times on these matters and has assisted government net assessments in these areas.

More of Mr. Renshon's writings  and Part I can be found on his CIS blog here.

Source: Center for Immigrartion Studies

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