The Republicans in the House of Representatives have released their proposals for modifications to our existing immigration laws to allow millions of undocumented, foreign-born workers who live and work in the U.S. the opportunity to file for status in the U.S. The most significant of their proposals is the “No Path to Citizenship” stipulation. What does this mean?
The answer is vague. However, we can infer that immigrants currently without lawful status will be given permission to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Beyond that, who knows? Will they be able to file for green cards at some future moment? Will they be able to bring their families to the U.S. to live with them?
Could it be that these new “standards” actually create second class, long-time guest workers with limited rights who may be subject to removal if a future Congress decides to take these limited — although tangible — rights away?
The House Republicans do not appear to be meeting the problems of our dysfunctional immigration system head on in an attempt to resolve it in a more permanent fashion. The U.S. Senate did just that last summer. Why not the House Republicans?
The answer to me is fear — political fear. The House Republicans have to offer something to avoid further alienating the voting members of the Hispanic and Asian populations in the U.S. who have come to view the Republicans as anti-immigrant, based upon their past positions. House Republicans are composed, in part, of a nativist and xenophobic faction that is more interested in forcing out these potentially new Americans than in including them. Yet, since Hispanics and Asians often have family here who do not have proper documentation and, therefore, work for substandard wages and under the radar, or worse, many have seen members of their extended families deported with no possibility of returning for a minimum of 10 years, if ever, the issue of immigration is compelling and personal.
If this issue is reflected in the voting booth, it is, therefore, of paramount concern to the House Republicans. So why not grant legalization and a path to citizenship to obtain the voting friendship of these and other ethnic groups?
Many Republicans believe that the Hispanic and Asian voting blocs are lost to them based on the Republican hostility in the past to the immigration interests of these blocs. Using this logic, a path to citizenship for undocumented workers living and working in the U.S. is merely a path to the creation of more anti-Republican voters.
A Double Tragedy
Remember Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s famous adage that illegal aliens should be made to self-deport? This type of anti-immigrant jargon has weakened the Republican Party’s standing with crucial ethnic voting blocs, making it extremely difficult to win statewide and national elections in significant states such as California, Florida, and even Texas, long a “red state.”
To escape their reputation as anti-immigrant, House Republicans are trying to not create new voters while wooing the voting bloc of ethnic voters. Apparently, they have no confidence in their ability to communicate any new sincere friendliness to these potentially newest members of our society.
Thus, we have a double tragedy.
Immigrants continue to suffer with limited benefits under the House Republican proposals, just as the Republican Party, suffers from internal fears and factionalism that hinder saving its electoral future by promulgating a more forthright solution to our immigration problem.