Feature image courtesy of C-Span
Could it be? Are we nearing the end?
“A bipartisan group of four Democratic senators and four Republican senators will announce the framework for a comprehensive immigration reform plan on Monday, seeking to jump out in front of President Obama’s planned Tuesday speech on immigration.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) will join with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to promote the plan. Senators will unveil their plan … at a Monday afternoon press conference in Washington.”
Ever shameless, Sen. McCain explained the sudden support for fairer immigration reform among some Republicans as a result of the last two presidential elections. “Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours, for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.”
The change of heart is driven by necessity, not principle.
Sen. McCain was one of the Republicans who voted along party lines against the DREAM Act in 2010 — which won a majority of votes in the Senate but failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to end the Republican filibuster.
Several months before voting against the DREAM Act, Sen. Graham proposed tweaking the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to the natural born American children of undocumented immigrants. “Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake,” Graham said at the time. “We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen.”
As a member of the House of Representatives, Sen. Flake supported a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, though he voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 — which ultimately passed the House before it marched toward its demise in the Senate.
The Democrats — Senators Durbin, Schumer, Menendez and Bennet — all voted in favor of the DREAM Act in 2010. In fact, Illinois’ own Sen. Durbin first introduced the bill back in 2001. (The DREAM Act was co-sponsored in 2001 by Orrin Hatch, a Republican, who later voted against it.)
I can hear the cries from Latinos and DREAM activists now. Yes, the Republicans are only warming up to the idea of fairer treatment toward immigrants because their historically low support among Latinos resulted in a thrashing last November. The GOP is hoping their support for immigration reform will translate into enough Latino votes going forward to stave off utter extinction. (Jokes on them. The party’s harsh stance on immigration isn’t the only reason most Latinos don’t vote Republican. But let them believe what they will.)
So it took severe arm-twisting by Latinos to force the Republicans into supporting immigration reform. That’s what democracy’s all about. If our leaders always legislated in our best interests, there’d be no reason to vote in the first place. We could just leave the government on autopilot and get back to watching our scripted reality shows.
Let this serve as a lesson to the non-voters out there, those on the left and right who pop up every election season and try selling their fellow citizens on the uselessness of voting. (I’m talking to you, Mr. Fiasco.)
Latinos were only 10 percent of the electorate last November, and yet, look how we were able to shift the domestic agenda.
The system still works.