What the Election Results Mean for Immigration Reform

Posted by Matthew Green | Nov 05, 2014 | 0 Comments

The results are in for most of the elections across the country.  Here in Southern Arizona, the 2nd Congressional district vote between Republican Martha McSally and Democratic incumbent Ron Barber remains too close to call.  But nationwide, voters have decided to shift the Senate back to the right, giving the Republicans the majority in both houses.  There have been predictions on what will be the future of immigration reform after the elections, and we may now see if and what changes will be made.

In a midterm election which was largely seen as a vote against President Obama rather than a vote for any major issues, the GOP regained the Senate for the first time since 2006.  Barack Obama is polling at an all-time low, with only a 44 percent job approval rating.  Among Latino voters, who showed up to vote for his re-election in 2012, polling suggests Obama's approval rating dropped almost 20 percent.  As warned, many Hispanic voters may have been disappointed with the president's decision to keep putting off immigration reform, and as a result, failed to come out to vote.

It may be impossible to know how much President Obama's decision to delay issuing an executive order affected close election results.  But under pressure from southern Democrats, immigration reform seemed too risky before the tight elections where Democrats were seeking to distance themselves from the president.  However, in alienating many Democratic leaning Latino voters, the political move may have backfired, demobilizing the growing number of Latino voters.

In tight races, many Republican candidates championed the rallying cry of border security and immigration fears to engage conservative voters.  By effectively avoiding the immigration discussion, Democrats lost an opportunity to mobilize the Latino community.  The president saw the evidence of this frustration during a number of rallies where he was interrupted and heckled by immigration activists.   Now the president faces his remaining two years in office with a Republican majority.

The president has promised post-election immigration reform, but the specifics of that reform has yet to be seen.  White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reasserted the president's promise, saying, “the one thing we know that's going to happen before the end of the year is the president's going to take action to use his executive authority to fix those aspects of our broken immigration system that can be fixed using executive authority.”

A majority of American's want immigration reform.  In a recent poll, over 80 percent of likely voters want Congress to deal with immigration. Republicans are even more likely to consider immigration legislation as “very important.”  However, the two parties do not necessarily agree on types of reforms they'd like to see, with about 63 percent of Democrats in favor of a pathway to citizenship versus 19 percent of Republicans.

Many Republicans insist on “securing the border” before supporting more comprehensive immigration reform.  Others support working on a more expansive overhaul of immigration laws.  Perhaps the disagreement within the Republican party will act to further delay any significant changes.  It is yet to be seen who will act first, whether the president will fulfill his promise to enact reform before the end of the year, or Congress will beat the president to the punch.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Attorney. The 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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