In a press conference yesterday President Obama laid out his administration’s position on immigration reform endorsing a bipartisan plan being floated in Congress and laying out his views.
First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders. It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who’s here legally, who’s not. So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.
Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship…
And the third principle is we’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn’t have to wait years.
The President also highlighted successful companies started by immigrants as a pivot to endorsing a more robust H1B visa program for immigrants graduating from American universities with degrees in math and science.
But the real story is not Obama’s position or even that of the Democratic Party writ large, the real story is that Republicans might be getting board this time around.
Bruised by successive presidential defeats in which Hispanic voters played a significant role, Republicans are eager to join in producing legislation that would make it easier for people to immigrate to the United States or stay here in some cases if they entered illegally…
Republicans, who were deeply divided just two years ago on immigration issues now largely believe their party needs to be behind some legislation. Senator John McCain of Arizona, who made tough border enforcement the cornerstone of his 2010 re-election campaign, stood with Democrats this week to nearly reverse his position once again on the issue, saying he would seek a bipartisan plan.
Weather vane McCain aside, the writing is on the wall for Republicans. If the GOP can not find a way to get more of the Hispanic vote they are finished as a national party. And not just the presidency, soon they won’t be able to win Senate elections and eventually House seats no matter how gerrymandered. This is a make or break moment for the Republican Party.