World Review January 2, 2015.
Weakness on illegal immigration sank the campaigns of every other Republican who contended for the GOP nomination against Donald J. Trump, who made it a key plank of his campaign.
IN THE US, President Barack Obama’s amnesty strategy on illegal immigrants successfully sought to begin building a new Democrat voter base, while at the same time making the Republican Party the ‘fall guy’ responsible for it, says freelance writer Kevin Brent.
The issue of offering amnesty for illegal immigrants first reared its head in 1986 when limited amnesty was granted by the Simpson-Mazzoli Act (The Immigration Reform and Control Act).
When this was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, it enabled unauthorized illegal immigrants the chance to apply for legal status, which would be approved if they met certain mandated requirements.
Republican Party leaders believed that the law would increase Vice President George Bush’s Hispanic-American vote in the 1988 presidential race. However, it had no such effect and the Hispanic-American Republican vote decreased from the 1984 presidential race. Bush still won a landslide victory.
The issue of ‘amnesty’ resurfaced in 2000 when Republican candidate George W. Bush made it a key plank of his election campaign. He re-labelled it ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ and the issue led to the hemorrhaging of Republican base voters. But, a triumphant President Bush continued his push for amnesty in 2001.
However, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the revelation that hijackers used legal immigration loopholes to get into the US, amnesty for illegal immigrants was quietly allowed to slip off the radar.
It was not until 2008 that the issue returned to the fore when Arizona Senator John McCain sought the Republican nomination for President. It had precisely the same effect it had in 2000, with McCain’s presidential prospects all but dead by the summer of 2007.
In the 2012 Republican primaries, any candidate who was seen to support any form of amnesty saw their poll numbers dive. You only have to recall Texas Governor Rick Perry, who rocketed to the top of the field only to nose dive when his support for in-state college tuition fees for some children of illegal immigrants in Texas became national news.
President Obama is focused on bestowing citizenship and voting rights to all illegal immigrants in the United States. This is because the Democrat Party simply cannot survive long-term without them.
However, President Obama realized that if Democrats were seen as the party that forced ‘amnesty’, it would simply hasten their spiral into political oblivion.
Enter Speaker of the House John Boehner, the ‘establishment Republican’ who is still suffering from the debunked belief that millions of illegal immigrants will vote lockstep Republican if they grant amnesty.
After the Republican midterm election landslide of November 4, 2014, in which campaigning against amnesty was a gold brick on the path to victory, President Obama announced an executive order declaring amnesty.
However, it has since been revealed that he signed no such order. Instead, he wrote a memo to Homeland Security instructing officials not to deport up to five million illegal immigrants.
But, the smoke and mirrors worked and the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner pushed Congressional legislation to process illegal immigrants on a fast track to residency. ‘Amnesty’ now has Republican DNA on it.
The Republican controlled House and newly won Republican controlled Senate will be seated in January 2015. That will be their chance to remove the ‘stain’ when amnesty funding expires in February but to do so will likely first require a Republican revolt to remove Boehner as Speaker of the House.