Thursday, May 30, 2019

Democratic Candidates and Immigration Reform

Beto O'Rourke has an immigration reform plan. It is good to see candidates laying out detailed plans even though they are rather pie-in-the-sky. It serves as a constant reminder that there is important business that Congress has shirked for decades. But there is a big question:

How will he or anyone else get such a thing passed?
On the campaign trail, O’Rourke has acknowledged that previous attempts at immigration reform have failed, but he’s confident that he would be more successful because he could rally public support in a way that former president Barack Obama could not. 
“There seems to be among people, regardless of party or geography, a real interest in doing the right thing now for Dreamers. I say that we capitalize on that . . . create the political pressure at the congressional district level to force the kind of change that we’ve been waiting for now more than 30 years,” O’Rourke told reporters in New Hampshire last month. “It cannot simply be a president proposing legislation or making the case nationally.”
I know, this is a campaign, and you don't start by talking about what compromises will be necessary to get the thing passed. Instead, you want people to get the flavor of your position. Fair enough.

But it's something I think about given the many failed proposals over the years.* I don't think any of the candidates will rally public support better than President Obama. And that matters. This will be really hard to pass and at some point you have to face the fact that many, including your own party, are not on board.

This matter politically because many Latinx voters no longer believe the Democratic Party is truly committed to substantive reform. It's not good enough just to mouth support for reform--that's been done to death. Instead, you need to show how you can get it passed. The last time we were even remotely close was 2013-2014.

As an aside, stuff like "Real change will require their full engagement and, as President, Beto will demand it" when referring to Central America is really a terrible idea.

* Back in May 2006, my first year of blogging, the Senate announced a deal was brewing and the Bush Administration said it wanted to pass it by Memorial Day.


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