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Race is Still the Main Obstacle to Immigration Reform. by Roger Algase

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Update: November 9, 8:50 pm.

According to a November 7 article in the National Journal: Virginia's Election Encapsulates the Problems Both Parties Face, the narrow win for Democrat Terry McCauliffe over Tea Party ideologue Ken Cuccinelli in the governor's race dramatically illustrates how polarized the two parties are by race; with the Democrats appealing to a broad coalition of minorities while losing more and more white votes, while the Republicans appeal mainly to older, more affluent whites.

The article mentions Cuccinelli's hard line on immigration as one of the reasons for his "vast deficit" among minorities. America's worsening racial polarization, aggravated by the GOP's decision to base all its hopes on appealing to a dwindling white voter base, continues to be the biggest obstacle to immigration reform.

My original post follows below:

Amid the ongoing discussion about whether Senate Democrats and other immigration supporters can live with the House's "piecemeal" approach to immigration reform (despite the continuing opposition by House Republican leaders to passing any reform bill that could lead to a Senate-House conference), it is important not to let focus on process act as a distraction from the fundamental dynamics of the reform issue.

These dynamics continue to be summed up in one word: race. A Huffington Post article by Keith Rushing that appeared nearly six months ago, on May 23, is no less relevant now than it was then.

See: Race is at the Root of the Divide Over Immigration Reform

www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-rushing/race-is-at-the-root-of-th_b_3322077.html

Rushing writes:

"All the talk around immigration reform skirts the real issues: race and your vision of America. There are now nearly 51 million Latinos living in the United States and their population has grown astronomically. As their population has grown, so has their political strength...

Meanwhile, in 2012 black voter turnout surpassed white voter turnout for the first time in history...

What does this have to do with immigration? Well, if you're worried about the growing political strength of people of color, which is happening in large part because of a rapidly growing Latino population, then you might be motivated to do what you can to stop immigration reform that could put 11 million on the pathway to citizenship with the eventual power to vote.

For groups like the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) - which advocates against all immigration - there is a real fear of the nation's increasing racial diversity and the perceive loss of European dominance of America."

He concludes:

"The majority of Americans support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. They reject the politics of fear and exclusion...They believe that there is room to allow immigrants to participate fully in American civic life and that immigrants contribute to America as well as the understanding of what it means to be an American.

As the immigration debate moves to the Senate floor and then to the House of Representatives, these views of America will continue competing for public support. The expansive view of what it means to be an American will contend with that narrow, xenophobic and Nativist perspective that seeks to maintain America as a bastion of white privilege. Members of Congress will have to decide which view they support."

Since the above was written, clearly the expansive view of America which Rushing describes has prevailed in the Senate. The opposite view, so far, holds sway in the House. If immigration advocates want reform to happen any time in the foreseeable future, they must focus on the real issue of race and stop giving GOP bigots in the House the benefit of the doubt over "differences in process", or pretending that their talk about "piecemeal" bills - none of which include legalization for 11 million people so far as is known - has any purpose other than to kill reform in a way that will allow the anti-immigrant House Republican leadership to try to blame the Democrats for its demise.


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Updated 11-09-2013 at 07:50 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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