Republicans Getting Softer on Immigration

June 11, 2015 4:28 am
by David Jakeman

As Republican presidential hopefuls try to stake out their turf on immigration, it appears that their base is giving them more support for some form of immigration reform than has been true in the past. According to a recent poll, a majority of Republicans could see themselves voting for a Republican who would protect the nation’s immigrants from deportation.

Surprising Findings

At first glance, the poll’s result probably don’t seem too surprising, given the political realities of immigration that are closing in on the Republican Party. The results seem somewhat contradictory when you also note that a majority of Republicans also support reversing Obama’s executive order granting protections to millions of immigrants across the country. Perhaps it’s more about style and process then the end result.

Many Republicans have an easier time supporting immigration reform if there are certain conditions contingent on gaining legal status. Said one Republican living in Seattle, “I don’t just have a problem with immigration as long as they are here working and following the rules.” Immigration lawyers understand that it’s an uphill battle to get Congress to pass immigration reform, but this recent poll should help Republicans presidential hopefuls believe they can strike out in greater support of immigration reform.1

Republicans for Immigration Reform

During the last Republican presidential primary, Texas governor Rick Perry ran into trouble for his support of initiatives that favored immigration reform as governor. Sure he got into trouble when he embarrassingly said, “oops,” but he also lost much of the base due to his stance on immigration. It was an issue that Mitt Romney took him to task on, with the now famous “self-deportation” approach that Romney favored.
But Romney’s stance fared much less well in the general election, and constituencies that heavily favor immigration reform, like Latinos, flocked to Obama. As a result, it appears that Republican candidates can, and are, taking more favorable approaches. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie are just some of the notable names to take a more favorable stance towards immigration reform.

What most immigration lawyers are wondering is whether that will be enough to garner much needed votes from the Latino population, a group that will have even more voting power during this next election. It remains to be seen what role immigration reform will play in both the Republican primaries and general elections.

But if someone like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush does win the nomination, they can actually point to initiatives they’ve promoted or things they’ve said in the past supporting immigration reform. Perhaps in the presidential debates, they can convince other voters that they will not only support immigration reform, but that they will actually get something workable done. If they succeed at this, then they have a fighting chance of winning the overall election because getting those swing votes in crucial states like Colorado, Nevada, and Florida is going to be key. One thing is for certain, this race is only just getting started.


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