Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham have restarted talks on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Schumer and Graham first teamed up on the matter in 2009, but Graham split off shortly thereafter, when Harry Reid wanted to prioritize the bill. He thought this undermined a separate piece of bipartisan legislation on climate change, and so he dropped his support of both efforts. This bit of history shows how tenuous working with Graham can be.
But it’s a new year, and the hissy fits have been subdued, and Graham is on the case.
“I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform bill that’s an American solution to an American problem, but we have nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing Hispanics and we can get them back with some effort on our part,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
Graham continued: “It means securing our borders which every American agrees with, it means making sure that you stop, make it harder to high illegal immigrants, verifying employment, we need to secure the borders, make sure you can’t hire an illegal immigrant because you’ll have documents that can’t be faked, we need guest workers to make it a win-win for American employers when they can’t find workers here, and when it comes to the 12 million, we need to be firm and fair, self-deportation’s not going to work, 65% of the people in the exit poll of this election supported a pathway to citizenship.”
The broad sketch of this could amount to a legitimately positive condition for millions of people in the shadows, or simply a way to find exploitable labor for agricultural employers. We’ll have to see some details.
Keep in mind that securing a 2,000-mile border is completely impossible. The border has never been more secure than in the past couple years, simply because of record deportations and the fact that the crappy economy has dissuaded undocumented immigrants from entering the country (we’ve had a net outflow recently), and I’m sure Lindsey Graham would join every Republican in Congress in saying that we have an insecure border at the moment.
Republicans who say that you first must secure the borders in order to move forward on immigration reform usually don’t want to move forward at all. Even if Graham won’t use border security as a crutch, he also happens to be up for re-election, and was among the top targets of the Tea Party for a primary challenge even before this announcement.
Sean Hannity may have “evolved” on immigration, and the top level of the Party as well. But I see no evidence that conservatives changed their minds on this, and surely they will continue to fight amnesty and make anyone on their side who supports it pay. The fact that practically every Latino voter supports Democrats is besides the point. And they aren’t totally wrong that the Republican problem with Latinos won’t be ameliorated by a change of heart on policy; the intolerance matters much more.
“The Republican Party has learned that being anti-immigrant doesn’t work for them politically, and they know it,” Chuck Schumer said in reaction to this on the Sunday shows. The party is not the base, and the base has already stopped a Republican President from getting his way on this topic.