December 14, 2008

A PARTY IN NEED OF MORE OOGEDY-BOOGEDY, NOT LESS:

The answer on immigration (Frank Sharry , 12/14/08, Washington Times)

Why is illegal immigration now a top-tier policy concern? Is it anger at the illegal immigrants? No. In a recent poll conducted by Sergio Bendixen for NDN only 3 percent of voters blame them. Employers who game the system? Yes, nearly a quarter of voters blame employers, many of whom are seen as unscrupulous actors who underpay workers and skip out on taxes. But by a 2-1 margin the public blames the federal government and Congress. Failure to solve illegal immigration is now a symbol of how Washington doesn't work.

This is what most Democrats now get and most Republicans don't. In 2008, Barack Obama and the vast majority of Democratic candidates for Congress defined themselves as in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. The key elements of comprehensive reform are strong enforcement at the borders and the workplace coupled with a requirement that those here illegally pass criminal background checks, pay taxes, study English and get to the back of the citizenship line. This is viewed by the majority of Americans as the most pragmatic approach to this complicated problem.

In contrast, most Republicans adopted a harder line. John McCain felt compelled to pander to make-'em-all-leave primary voters with a promise of "border security first." In contested congressional races, most Republicans trumpeted the enforcement-only position of "no amnesty" so popular with talk radio and anti-immigration groups.

The results? Mr. Obama trounced Mr. McCain with Latino voters generally (67 percent to 31 percent) and Latino immigrant voters especially (75 percent to 25 percent). This represents a dramatic shift from the success George W. Bush had in 2004 (John Kerry won 59 percent to 40 percent with Latinos generally and only 52 percent to 48 percent with Latino immigrants). The results in battleground congressional races was just as stark. In 22 battleground House and Senate races where a Republican enforcement-only hawk challenged Democratic candidates who favored a more comprehensive approach to reform, the reform-minded Democrat won in 20.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 14, 2008 8:47 AM
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