In the hopes of delivering on a first term campaign promise, the Obama administration is turning its sights to the issue of immigration reform.
The day before President Obama spoke on the subject at a predominantly Hispanic high school in Las Vegas, a group of eight Senators, now known as the “Gang of 8”, including New York Senator Charles Schumer, Arizona Senator John McCain, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a favorite of Conservatives, put forth a comprehensive immigration reform bill that people on both sides of the isle either really like or really hate.
Republicans did poorly with Hispanics in the 2012 election, with Mitt Romney only garnering 27% of the vote. The GOP is well aware that they must reach out to this important voting bloc. But more than that, with roughly 11 million immigrants in this country illegally, a solution to a problem that is not going away or getting smaller must be found, and Republicans know they must be involved in fixing the system. Most Conservatives, while they like Rubio, are very mistrustful of a group that includes the likes of Schumer, Dick Durbin(D-IL), and Republicans they consider too moderate like McCain and Lindsey Graham(R-NC). They are also fearful of a Republican cave-in to Liberal Senate demands.
The bill calls for securing the southern border first and foremost, and Rubio says that without this basic first step, he could not support the bill. Other first priorities in the bill would include law enforcement “mechanisms” to ensure border security, and workplace enforcement, such as E-Verify. A system for tracking people in this country on visas would also be put in place. Even though when most Americans think of illegal immigrants, they think of those from Mexico and other Latin American countries, 40% of illegals are those who have overstayed their visas from other nations around the world.
Those opposed to the bill see nothing more than amnesty, an easy path to citizenship, and a reward for law breaking. President Obama would also like to see a path to citizenship, but says he is in agreement with many other points of the bill, such as a requirement to learn english, and going to the back of the line behind those who have started their citizenship process legally.
Will more Republicans and Conservatives get on board with a plan that also seems to have a good deal of support from the President? Will any alliance with Schumer, Durbin and moderate Republicans hurt any thoughts of 2016 for Marco Rubio?
The debate is just beginning.
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