Right-wing infighting overshadows new bipartisan immigration reform plan

A bipartisan group of eight Democratic and Republican senators unveiled a framework for immigration reform yesterday, detailing plans to provide a pathway to legal permanent residency for the nation’s nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“We still have a long way to go but this bipartisan blueprint is a major breakthrough,” said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. “We do not want immigration as a wedge issue, we want a bipartisan bill that solves the problem.”

(As John notes in a post this morning, Schumer and fellow Democratic Senators Durbin, Menendez and Bennet agreed to Republican demands to axe a fix for binational gay couples from the plan.)

Undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally would only earn permanent legal status once new requirements for securing the borders are met, requirements to be determined in part by a commission made up of a group of border governors and citizens. The senators failed to add whether this commission could hold up the legalization process indeterminately, or who specifically would make up the commission.

Other requirements include a clean record, paying back taxes, English language and civics prerequisites, and a work history.

The plan was quickly denounced by right-wing media as an Obama administration attempt to grant millions of immigrants amnesty, with the vast majority of critics also failing to note that the last president to actually grant amnesty (via the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986) was Republican President Ronald Reagan.  Oops.

“It’s up to me and Fox News [to stop immigration legislation], and I don’t think Fox News is that invested in this,” added talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Meanwhile, bogger Michelle Malkin christened GOP leaders as “bend-over Republicans.”

Numbers USA, designated an anti-immigrant group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, also condemned the framework. “The only force strong enough to slow down the amnesty juggernaut is the voice of the American people,” the organization pleaded in an email to its members. “For those of you who were part of our team in 2007, it’s deja vu all over again. You know the drill.”

The organization is popularly credited with derailing former Republican President George W. Bush’s 2007 immigration plans, flooding congressional fax machines and phones with letters and calls. While touting the support of the President, the Chamber of Commerce, and several top Latino organizations, the bill went on to die on the Senate floor.

Pushed on his reasoning for supporting immigration reform in 2012, GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona offered a blunt response: “Elections. The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens.” McCain supported President Bush’s immigration plan, but was forced to retreat before seeking the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Equally as telling is Florida’s GOP Senator Marco Rubio refusing to use the pejorative term “illegal immigrant,” instead describing undocumented immigrants simply as “human beings.”  (I know, but for Rubio this counts as “growth.”)

With President Obama set to unveil his own immigration plans in Las Vegas today, Republican leaders still smarting from a humiliating Mitt Romney loss are realizing that capturing the key Latino bloc is vital to a Republican White House win. But with angry GOP constituencies smothering Republican leaders’ insistence that evolving is the only path to the GOP’s survival, the right’s ability to coalesce hangs by a delicate thread.

Gabe Ortíz is a San Francisco-based writer. He has contributed to the Mission's bilingual newspaper "El Tecolote," and the political blogs AMERICAblog, AMERICAblog Gay, and Veracity Stew. He's also a Stevie Nicks lover and shameless catlady. Follow him on Twitter: @Tusk81.

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7 Responses to “Right-wing infighting overshadows new bipartisan immigration reform plan”

  1. I sense that Republicans know, beyond a doubt, that in THIS battle, they have precious little to win, and a whole LOT to lose. There is such a stance that one can win battles, but it should be the goal of either side to win the war. I don’t think the vast majority of the Republican/TPods understand, or can accept this idea, much to their demise.

  2. Ron Thompson says:

    Tom Foley deserves consideration here. He couldn’t even get Clinton’s Health Care Plan onto the floor at a time when the Democrats had 258 seats, and then he became the first Speaker in 130 years to be defeated for reelection.

  3. Naja pallida says:

    My vote goes for incompetent, but opinions vary.

  4. karmanot says:

    Is Boehner the most incompetent SOH in a hundred years or just a talented aspirant?

  5. Naja pallida says:

    Boehner, and the politically expedient class of Republicans, realize that this is their only hope for rebuilding a bridge to the Hispanic voter. But that’s only 20, maybe 25, members of the House Republicans, at the most. The racist and xenophobic beast that Boehner has courted for the last eight years is going to obliterate his chances at working out any kind of equitable deal. Again, he’s going to have to rely on Democrats to carry it, and hope he can convince a few Republicans in those states who are going to find themselves mired in a Hispanic majority district in the next few election cycles. Of course, their gerrymandering threats are also giving some of those people a false sense of hope for retaining power, so he may be doomed before he even starts.

  6. BeccaM says:

    Missing from this account: Any mention of reaction or official statements from the House GOP or its leadership. No details as to how or even why anybody expects the House Republicans to do anything but declare the immigration plan dead-on-arrival.

    My cynical instincts suggest this entire Senate effort is merely for show.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    Republicans are just scared that all the new Hispanic residents will immediately become Democrats.

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