On Immigration Reform, El Diablo Is in the Details

By Miguel Perez

February 5, 2013 6 min read

If there is a stipulation that has to be met first, if comprehensive immigration reform still is going to depend on when Republicans "certify" that the border with Mexico has been "secured," then forget about it. It's all a huge farce.

And if Democrats are going along with it, as some already have in a U.S. Senate proposal, knowing that some GOP governors along the border are likely to block it, are Democrats really trying to help immigrants? Or are they just setting a trap for Republicans to keep alienating themselves from Latino voters?

Let's face it: The Democrats have a history of winning the Latino vote, not because they earn it, but because they can easily show us how the Republicans would be much worse. Do they think they can do this indefinitely?

So say Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform law that makes a path to citizen for undocumented immigrants contingent on the certification of a "border security commission" that is appointed by border governors like Jan Brewer of Arizona or Rick Perry of Texas.

Why bother?

Why are Washington Democrats passing the buck to Republican states? Is this the way Sen. Chuck Schumer continues to blame Republicans in order to secure the Latino vote for Democrats in the future?

On immigration reform, el Diablo is in the details — and in both parties!

I can see how Republicans would want to make "amnesty" contingent on border security certification because they know that it would never happen.

But Democrats? Are they stupid? Or do they think Latinos are stupid?

After all the concessions the Obama administration already has made, after all the red meat he already has served to right-wing extremists — even breaking deportation and border-enforcement spending records without gaining anything in return from Republicans — when do Democrats begin to act like leaders instead of Machiavellian political opportunists?

While the Senate five-page "framework of principles" falls short of the true immigration reform the country needs — and of the payback Latinos expect from Democrats after the November elections — now there is talk that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers is drafting a bill that not only could require that impossible border security certification but could altogether exclude a path to citizenship for the 11 million documented immigrants already living here.

If this is true, it's crazy!

Given all the recent talk about how the two parties are bound to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year, it seems unbelievable that some Republicans still are unwilling to create any pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Yet House Judiciary Committee chairman Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has even suggested that, to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, we must look somewhere "on a spectrum between deportation and citizenship."

In other words, some Republicans might be willing to let undocumented immigrants stay here legally, not as citizens but rather as second-class residents — as long as they never get the right to vote, which is what Republicans rightfully fear most. They know that once those immigrants become voters, they are likely to punish the party and politicians who made their lives so miserable for so long.

For Republicans, it's all about preventing a well-deserved backlash that could hurt them for many years to come. That's why some of them are insisting on "border security certification" that would in effect nullify whatever else is in a comprehensive immigration reform law.

In fact, border crossings have decreased as dramatically as deportations have increased. The border is more secure than it has been in many years. But for some people, it will never be enough. As long as a fly can go through without permission, Republicans will have the excuse they need to prevent those undocumented immigrants (who already have been here for years) from eventually becoming the voters who would boot them of office.

When Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's visited Texas to inspect the border this week, immigrant bashing champion Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas immediately issued a statement saying he hoped "Napolitano returns to Washington and relays to the President and Senate Democrats what Texans already know: our border is not secure and the federal government has a long way to go."

This will be the Republican strategy from now on. And if the Democrats don't challenge it, including President Obama in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech, true immigration reform is in deep trouble.

Clearly, what the Republicans want is to delay undocumented immigrants from becoming voters as long as possible. But what is becoming disturbingly clear is that some Democrats expect to keep winning the Latino vote by default because the other team keeps knocking itself out of contention.

To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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