ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network




Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of
free information!
Immigration LLC.

View RSS Feed

Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


Rate this Entry

No doubt you've already heard from plenty of pundits explaining yesterday's election. But from the immigration perspective, there are some important things to note that others might not be saying. Obviously, it's going to be a tougher environment for measures affecting illegally present immigrants. But let's get into some of the specifics.

First, what is the impact of the big shift in the House of Representatives? The losses in the House last night actually don't change that much in terms of the actual likely votes on bills affecting illegal immigration. That's because most of the ousted Democrats were Blue Dog conservatives who were much less likely to support a comprehensive immigration bill than their liberal counterparts.

Where the results are likely to have the biggest impact is at the committee level. The House Immigration Subcommittee has been a magnet for years for some of the most anti-immigrant members of the GOP. It's very likely that the next Chair of the committee will be someone VERY unfriendly. Of course, longer term thinkers in the GOP leadership might want to see about getting some voices of moderation on that committee if they hope to win over Latino voters. But if the past is an indication, the new Chair is going to be someone the Federation for American Immigration Reform is going to have on its speed dial.

The Senate remains in Democratic hands though some pro-immigrant voices will be gone. Pennsylvania Arlen Spector, a key co-sponsor of immigration legislation in the past, is leaving. Sam Brownback (R-KS), also a co-sponsor in the past of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, is departing the Senate to become Kansas' new governor. His replacement, Jerry Moran, actually has been a champion of physician immigration during his tenure in the House so perhaps he will be a supporter of legal immigration reform. The loss of the President's old Senate seat in Illinois is tough news for pro-immigration advocates as is the departure of Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. On the other hand, pro-immigration advocates can be cheered by the Democrats' overall better than expected performance in the Senate including the win by Majority Leader Harry Reid. And two of the Democratic losses from last night - Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Evan Bayh's seat in Indiana - may be less serious since the two have been unreliable votes on immigration (though Bayh, unlike Lincoln, supported the DREAM Act in September's vote on the issue).

Aside from having fewer overall pro-immigration supporters in the Senate (especially on issues involving illegal immigration), there are some other changes that might be coming. First, will Harry Reid step aside as Majority Leader as some have suggested he might given the poor performance of Democrats yesterday? If he does, Senators Schumer of New York and Durbin of Illinois are expected to fight for the spot. Schumer is the current very pro-immigration Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Durbin, also on the Immigration Subcommittee is great on issues affecting illegally present immigrants, but has been terrible when it comes to legal immigration. One fear I have is that Schumer would get Majority Leader and Durbin would become the Chair of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Hopefully, pro-business immigration groups will have be considered when the chair of the committee is decided if Schumer leaves the post. How about a swap of Harry Reid for the Immigration Subcommittee Chair and Schumer for Majority Leader?

As I noted yesterday, Senator-Elect Marco Rubio of Florida made a point of giving an inspriring tribute to his father's immigrant dreams so perhaps he will be a new pro-immigration voice in the GOP and seek out a seat on the Immigration Subcommittee as his predecessor Mel Martinez did.

Pro-immigration advocates are likely not going to be happy about yesterday's results in governors races around the country. Rick Scott is the apparent winner in Florida. The GOP nominee made a big point of pointing out his support for the Arizona bill. Not surprisingly, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer easily won. Nebraska's new governor-elect ran hard on an anti-immigrant agenda. And with the GOP picking up 15 state legislatures and more than 500 legislators yesterday, anti-immigration bills are likely to increase in number unless the Supreme Court clamps down on them.

Did yesterday's voters intend to send a message on immigration? Overwhelmingly, the answer is no. Immigration ranked a distant fourth in terms of issues of most importance to voters. Only 8% of voters yesterday considered illegal immigration the most important issue facing the country compared to 62% who thought the economy was the priority issue. 8% is actually on the high side compared to prior elections, not a surprise given the Arizona debate this year, but it's still quite low overall and should hopefully give some comfort to those who think casting a pro-immigration vote is a ticket to a primary opponent and ousting by the voters.

How did Latinos vote yesterday? Not surprisingly, they gave their support to Democrats by a margin 30 points higher than the general voter population (roughly the same as in 2008). Given that Democrats had an overall 7 point deficit in the national exit polls, Latinos have now proven to be a key part of the Democratic coalition for three election cycles in a row. Some may not realize that President Bush got almost half of Latino votes in 2004 and that Karl Rove considered Latinos a key constituency if the GOP was to achieve a permanent majority. I'll have more to say on this subject after more complete exit poll data is released from groups that focused on surveying Latino voters.

Of course, if Latinos largely stayed home yesterday, it would not matter if they overwhelmingly supported Democrats. In 2008, Latinos represented 9% of those who voted. Yesterday, they represented 8%. Still, they turned out in greater numbers than most other key groups in the Democratic coalition and held their own given the fact that GOP core groups were especially energized to vote. And they apparently made the difference in several elections including re-electing Senator Reid and likely re-electing Senator Murray in Washington and Bennett in Colorado.

With all that said, what can we expect from Washington on immigration issues over the next two years. First, I think it is safe to say that comprehensive immigration reform is dead until at least 2013 and that's only if the Democrats recapture most of the seats they lost yesterday. Pro-immigration groups had started this year to quietly abandon the idea that comprehensive immigration reform was the only approach to repairing the broken immigration system. That's why the DREAM Act as a standalone immigration fix has gained traction. But I think we're likely to see the floodgates open for efforts to pass small bills again and comprehensive immigration reform advocacy will largely be over as a legislative strategy.

Personally, I'm looking forward to getting to work on trying to make smaller fixes. This has been a lost decade for the immigration system with virtually no lawmaking since 2000. A number of critically needed changes - particularly those relating to legal immigration - that probably had the votes to pass were held up in the name of maximizing support for CIR. Expect to see a push for smaller bills affecting investors and business creators, high skilled workers, health care workers, AgJobs, DREAM, family immigration, etc. Chances are that we're going to see a push from the GOP to make E-Verify universal, more money for border security, tougher penalties on employer immigration violators and generally more enforcement. It's likely that support for legal immigration reform by the GOP will come with the price tag of adding in more immigration enforcement.

A nightmare scenario for pro-immigration folks is if the new Congress takes a protectionist tilt and labor left Democrats and xenophobic Republicans get together to push anti-business immigration bills targeting employment immigration. We've seen this in the case of past measures where Bernard Sanders, Richard Durbin and Chuck Grassley have co-sponsored protectionist immigration bills.

We could see some immediate action on immigration issues in the lame duck session that will be called shortly by Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi. Senator Reid has already said he intends to re-introduce the DREAM Act and he needs just four votes to get the bill over the finish line. It is possible that he could get a few of the departing Senators to change their votes. Perhaps he can get Senators Voinovich, Bennett, Brownback, Gregg, LeMieux, or Lincoln to change their votes. All are theoretically "yes" votes. Or he might have a shot at getting New England Senators Brown, Snowe and Collins to reconsider. And the one no-show on the last vote was Lisa Murkowski, previously a moderate on immigration who has told Alaska's Democrats that in exchange for sending her back to Congress as a write-in independent candidate, she would think independently. So maybe she is persuadable.

Finally, let us not forget that we still have a pro-immigration President. He has largely deferred to Congress to work out immigration reform. His strategy has been largely to focus on beefing up enforcement in order to make it easier to make the case that the federal government has gotten illegal immigration under control. Remember the memo from a few months back discussing ideas for how the Administration could get a lot done on immigration independent of Congress? It may be time to blow the dust off that document. Of course, some in the GOP will go berzerk if that happens. But we may see President Obama become a lot more confrontational on this issue if it looks like he risks having no progress to show Latino voters after four years of his presidency.

Now we wait and see.

[UPDATE: I should have mentioned that a few new extremists have won elections and we'll have to see how much of an impact they have on immigration. One is Hazleton, PA Mayor Lou Barletta who has already said he's planning on making immigration his big issue. Another is Montgomery, AL city councilwoman Martha Roby who was behind an anti-immigration ordinance in her city. Sandra Adams defeated Suzanne Kosmas in Florida. Adams has pushed a number of anti-immigration bills in the Florida state legislature. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about some of these new members of Congress soon.]

[UPDATE #2] Looks like Kris Kobach is going to have to give up his lucrative job writing unconstitutional anti-immigrant bills to focus on his new job as Kansas Secretary of State where he'll focus on Kansas' massive problem of voting by illegally present immigrants.]

[UPDATE #3] See my post here regarding better polling data of Hispanic voters showing the exit polls may have actually understated Latino turnout and Latino support for Democratic candidates and they may have actually saved the Senate for the Democrats]

Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to Facebook Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to Twitter Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to Google Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to StumbleUpon Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to Reddit Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to Digg Submit "TAKEAWAYS FROM ELECTION 2010" to

Tags: None Add / Edit Tags


  1. beppe's Avatar
    i think that is clear that the Latino Vote was the key to hold the senate for the Dems, either the Dems and the GOP knows that..
  2. George Chell's Avatar
    Reid stepping aside for Schumer or Durbin? Not going to happen...

    But, Schumer is not necessarily pro-employment based immigration. Remember he was behind the rise in fees which potentially drives many jobs to places such as Canada which will otherwise come here to the US. Any form of legal immigration reform is not going to happen when the committee led by Steve King and Lamar Smith focus on illegal immigration. Two years ago we lost Marilyn Musgrave and Tom they have been replaced by Martha Roby, Lou Barletta and Sandra Adams. You can bet Roby and Adams will join the other two racists Marsha Blackman and Michelle Bachman in their anti-immigrant agenda. One more turncoat Jamie Herrera of Washington State will likely join them as well. It is at these times that I am very thankful that illegal immigration continues to be a problem in the US. Without illegals around, these racists and turncoats will go after non-white legal immigrants. This is what experience in the UK and Australia suggests. UK has literally capped skilled immigration at 4,000 a year including only about 200-400 from the US. Opposition leader Abbott wanted to keep out skilled immigrants from Australia..and cap all immigration around 180,000. Driven by selfish white Australians many of whom work abroad, espeically in Asia but dont want to give the same opportunity to their hosts, he almost succeeded. America is no different. If there was no illegal problem racists such as Roby, Adams, and turncoat racist Herrera will go after legal immigrants...and talking about immigration, I think the Indian American Nikki Haley will join them as well, if she gets an opportunity although she nearly lost the elections yesterday in SC, because folks at the Bob Jones University in Greenville and the surrounding areas did not vote for her because of her marriage to a white American...dont believe me take the results of the 2010 governor's race and compare the results of the 2006 governor's race when Mark Sanford won easily...for lot of these folks white purity is God...and that is what they are worried about when we talk immigration legal or otherwise!
  3. Jim's Avatar
    They may also push for the Biometric, fraud-resistant SS cards. There's nothing wrong with this. With terrorists getting more cocky and creative nowadays these cards can provide another level of security.

    If Big brother wants to monitor someone, they will!! Biometric SS card or not. Might as well mandate everyone to get it. More pros than cons and this isn't so much to ask as part of a compromise.

  4. George Chell's Avatar
    "They may also push for the Biometric, fraud-resistant SS cards. There's nothing wrong with this. With terrorists getting more cocky and creative nowadays these cards can provide another level of security.

    If Big brother wants to monitor someone, they will!! Biometric SS card or not. Might as well mandate everyone to get it. More pros than cons and this isn't so much to ask as part of a compromise."

    Even some GOPers such as anti-immigrant Bob Barr will make sure it does not happen! Look for Grover Norquist and the Cato Institute to fight against this proposal or National ID. Personally I think that everyone who wants a national ID should be allowed to get one.

Put Free Immigration Law Headlines On Your Website

Immigration Daily: the news source for legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers Enter your email address here: