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Does Neither Party Represent Best on Immigration?

Posted by Matthew Green | Oct 07, 2014 | 0 Comments

The debate on immigration reform has gone nowhere in recent years. Democrats blame Republicans, and Republicans blame Democrats.  With no progress in sight, the President promised executive action on immigration, but even that promise stalled when it became a divisive political issue.  So who gets credit for at least representing the interests of their supporters when it comes to immigration?  A new study finds that neither party is being well represented in the immigration debate.

In a new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a survey of Republicans and Democrats were asked how good a job their party does representing their interests on the issue of illegal immigration. Only 37% of Republicans thought the party was doing a good job, and slightly higher, 47% of Democrats thought their party was doing a good job.

One-third of the Republicans surveyed thought the party was too willing to allow legal status, and 21% of Democrats found the same for the Democratic party.  On the contrary, roughly equally on both sides at about 20%, each thought their party was not willing enough to allow legal status.

The divide on the Republican side can drawn along age lines in the party. Republicans under 35 are more divided on their parties representation on the issue of immigration reporting 48% finding the party is not doing a good job, but those 35 and older were at 60% dissatisfied.  While the Democratic side does not have as sharp a contrast when it comes to age, 40% of Hispanic Democrats found that 40% agreed their party is not willing enough to allow legal status, as compared with 15% of non-Hispanic Democrats.

Republicans have effectively said there would be no immigration reform this year.  House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement that “the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion.”  However, some GOP lawmakers are suggesting that if people actually want immigration reform, they should elect more Republicans.

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida has said the likelihood of immigration reform is better if Republicans win the Senate. Republican Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions agreed.  “I think if Republicans gain support in this election, that it'd be time to get some of those things done. It's through that kind of process that you begin to have enough credibility to ask the American people for more comprehensive reform,” Sessions said.

In the last two presidential elections, Hispanics have shifted further from the Republican party, identifying more with Democrats.  Many Republicans worry that their party's tough immigration stance is part of the problem.  As the Hispanic population continues to grow in the country, the Republicans will face a steeper uphill battle to win votes without a shift in party policy.

While Democratic leaders continue to blame the Republican party for failure to pass immigration reform, many voters are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of movement.  President Obama had promised executive action, only to continue pushing back the timeline.  Now the message appears to be, “just hold on a little longer.”

In speaking to Hispanic leaders, Vice President Joe Biden said the president is "absolutely committed to moving forward,” and, “he's going to do an awful lot."

Once again, a clear timeline was not provided, nor a description of what was actually going to be done.  In the meantime, it appears that both Republican and Democratic members are becoming more and more dissatisfied with their parties' leadership.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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