U.S. Immigration Reform: September 2014 Archives

With his announcement Saturday morning that he would delay any administrative reform measures on immigration until after the 2014 midterm elections, President Obama has once again refused to stop or slow the mass deportations which have become the hallmark of his administration. He and his supporters claim he will take action after the elections. I don't know why anyone would believe that at this point. Whatever pressure the president is facing now to delay action would only increase were the Democrats to lose the Senate, as is now predicted by most observers. If Obama's poll numbers would crater if he implemented administrative reforms, dragging down the entire party, Democrats in Congress could persuade him to continue forestalling reforms after the elections. There will always be something more urgent on the president's agenda, some new reason to excuse another broken promise in November.

After the 2012 general election, I had begun to subscribe to the Democrats' prediction that demographic changes in the electorate would inevitably lead to broad legalization relatively soon. Given the demands of the two-year election cycle, House Republicans might succumb to the temptation to demagogue immigrants. But more reasonable voices in the GOP would prevail as the party looked ahead to 2016 and the prospect of failing to win the White House and the Senate. I read with interest Tim Dickinson's analysis of Karl Rove's political strategy in 2010 of winning state legislatures in order to reshape House districts more favorably for Republicans. Dickinson and others predicted that the strategy of spreading GOP voters among a larger number of districts--turning more districts red, but a lighter shade of red--would eventually backfire as the proportion of Democratic voters grew and turned the districts blue again. However, Nate Cohn this weekend presented a rebuttal to this theory, arguing that the concentration of Democratic voters in urban districts, combined with the increased polarization of the electorate, provides Republicans with a structural advantage in the House that could forestall demographic benefits to Democrats for many years. The influx of refugee children from Central America inflamed xenophobic elements in the GOP and made transparent the flimsiness of the Democrats' commitment to immigrant rights. Immigration policy, which Democrats had believed was a strength, was now seen as a threat to the Democratic policy agenda and control of the Senate.