Republicans have recently escalated their assault on immigrants.
Earlier this year, the GOP-dominated House of Representatives voted to defund President Obama’s executive order, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, that grants temporary deportation reprieve for an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants. Other provisions, if successful, would eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and increase the deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Since Obama, like his predecessors, has legal authority to implement executive orders without congressional approval, House Speaker John Boehner and fellow Republican leaders have striven to cut the funding sources of desperately needed relief programs for undocumented immigrants. Republicans have acted similar to the neighborhood kid with the football who takes the ball home because he doesn’t like the rules of the game.
But while Republicans took control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, they lack the necessary 60 votes to ride roughshod over Obama. In early February, the defunding bill died in the Senate.
Obama’s move to act on his own outwitted the Republicans by forcing them to take the blame, once again, for the lack of immigration reform. After experiencing tremendous heat from undocumented immigrants and their advocates for presiding over the deportation of more than 2 million immigrants, Obama had little choice but to attempt to regain the trust of Latinos. In response, Republican leaders quickly went on the offensive.
While their anti-immigrant strategy may gain them short-term gains with some white voters, Republicans will pay a high price at the ballot box in the long term. As we experience dramatic demographic changes in the United States, political leaders of both major parties must be cognizant of the needs of Latinos. Republican leaders have yet to learn this important lesson. Additionally, the fact that more than 1 million undocumented immigrants are Asian and Pacific Islanders is further bad news for Republicans.
If Republican leaders stubbornly pursue their anti-immigrant agenda, they will unwittingly become part of history by helping elect Hillary Clinton in 2016 as the first female president of the United States.
Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues.