On the immigration proposal

1) Wow.  Amazing what losing an election overwhelmingly among the fastest growing segment of the population can do to ideological purity.  Republicans are completely caving on this.  On the one hand, it bothers me that it is such naked electoral calculation.  On the other, however you get there, it’s clearly the right step policy-wise.  And nice to see that elections have consequences.

2) Sure, this is the Senate, and there may be some question as to whether the GOP House will go along.  But they will.  Please, Sean Hannity has already given his seal of approval out of fear of ever winning a national election again.  If Fox News is onboard with reform, which they will be, so will be plenty enough Republican legislators.

3) On that note, I like Chait’s post that the Republicans have basically adopted the agenda Krauthammer suggested right after the election– compromise on immigration and stay hard right on everything else.   Of course, Krauthammer is wrong.

4) Yglesias points out that even on some of the obvious bi-partisan low-hanging fruit, the outlines right now fall foolishly short.

 It will provide for automatic green cards to “immigrants who have received a PhD or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university.”

If I have any big complaint, it’s that the bill is oddly timid on the less controversial high-skill piece. What’s the fear of America being overrun by foreign economists, lawyers, doctors, and other skilled professionals who don’t have STEM advanced degrees? For that matter, what’s wrong with foreign-born STEM workers who did their graduate work in the United Kingdom or Canada or France or India or Japan? And do skilled STEM workers really all have to have advanced degrees? Where’s Bill Gates’ PhD? I feel confident we can do better on this front.

When first reading this, I though, well, this would’ve sure helped my Canadian friends who struggled for years and years to get green cards despite the husband having a PhD in biochemistry and a career in pharmaceutical drug design.   Then I read Yglesias point and realized my friend’s PhD is actually from Simon Fraser in Canada.  As Yglesias points out– truly moronic.  We”ll take the PhD from Southwestern Arkansas but not the one from Oxford?

5) This may indeed help Republicans with Hispanic voters, but not nearly as much as they think.  First, I really think the issue is largely symbolic to Latinos.  As long as Republicans use rhetoric that demeans Hispanic immigrants and culture, regardless of the policy, Latinos will not support Republicans.  The GOP needs to clean up it’s way of thinking, not just change how it votes in Congress and state legislatures.  But beyond that, great post by Jamelle Bouie on the fact that Hispanics are simply far more liberal across today’s key issues than your average voter:

Latinos have been a reliable Democratic constituency for more than thirty years — Walter Mondale won 66 percent of Latinos, Michael Dukakis won 70 percent, and on average, Democratic presidential candidates finish with 63.5 percent support from Hispanic voters…

The reason is straightforward: Latinos are more liberal than the median voter. According to the most recent Pew poll on these questions (released last year), 75 percent of Hispanics say they support bigger government with more services, compared to 41 percent of the general population. Fifty-one percent say abortion should be legal, and 59 percent say “homosexuality should be accepted by society.” There just isn’t much appetite among Latinos for the traditional small government approach of the GOP. Comprehensive immigration reform may reduce hostility towards the Republican Party, but it won’t increase vote share.

I think those Mondale and Dukakis figures are really telling.  The truth is that GWB was quite an anomaly among national Republicans in his appeal to Latino voters that, given our bias towards recent history, makes it easy to forget the above facts.   Rubio would presumably be another anomaly.  But just that, an anomaly– not a start of a major new trend of Hispanic voters being truly available to the GOP.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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