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Friday, October 28, 2016

“I’m seldom accused of being too nice,” writes Rep. Luis Gutierrez in his lively new autobiography. Yet the feisty and frank Chicago Democrat has been sounding a lot like Mr. Nice Guy these days as he tries to salvage immigration reform in the GOP-controlled House.

His book, Still Dreaming: My Journey from the Barrio to Capitol Hill, stirred considerable buzz for its less-than-flattering portrayal of President Barack Obama, of whom Gutierrez was an early supporter, for failing to push immigration reform during his first term as he had promised.

But on the heels of the government shutdown and the debt-ceiling showdown, the second-term president and both parties have new incentives to pass immigration reform — with less than a month left on the congressional calendar before the end of the year.

“I feel very, very optimistic,” Gutierrez told me in a phone interview between meetings on Capitol Hill. In spite of Washington’s bitter partisanship on full display in recent weeks, “quiet diplomacy” and “dialogue” about immigration reform “continued during all of that time.”

Not everybody shares his optimism. Immigration has long divided House Republicans and the rest of the Grand Old Party. Amid changing times and demographics, the party faces a dilemma over how it can polish its brand and expand its reach without losing its conservative base.

Pragmatic moderates in the GOP leadership want to fix our broken immigration system to spur economic growth and broaden the party’s ethnic diversity after last November’s presidential election loss. The only specific policy recommendation in the national party’s post-election “autopsy” called for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

But conservatives oppose anything that resembles “amnesty,” including the “pathway” to legalization and ultimately citizenship that Gutierrez and other Democrats want for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented workers.

Conservatives would rather emphasize border enforcement, even though more than half of the undocumented are estimated not to have entered over the border, but to have overstayed their visas.

The pressure is so fierce that Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio sounded this past weekend as though he was turning against the immigration bill he co-wrote and helped to persuade his fellow senators to pass in June.

In statements released by his spokesman Alex Conant, Rubio proposed a piece-by-piece approach to immigration reform instead of the comprehensive bill favored by the Senate. “(A)t this time, the only approach that has a realistic chance of success is to focus on those aspects of reform on which there is consensus through a series of individual bills,” the spokesman said.

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    The biggest problems affecting the implementation of immigration law reform, besides the overt hatred that most Republicans, especially Tea Party enthusiasts, show towards Latinos – regardless of residency or citizenship status – is the fact that President Obama tried to tackle too many controversial and complex issues at once.
    Old fashion and experienced conservative Republicans understand they cannot win national elections with the support of 25% of the electorate, and are ding everything they can to convince their rebellious new members to demonstrate pragmatism by embracing a long term strategy that would benefit their party and the country. I doubt they will succeed, and if anything passes it is bound to be so watered down it will not be worth th paper it is printed on.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Ethnic and religious prejudice has been with us ever since the Potato famine in Ireland caused many Irish Catholics to emigrate to America.

      While it may not be nice, it’s not illegal and if you want to practice ethnic, religious or any other kind of prejudice, you are free to do so.

      Your last name suggests that you are Hispanic, so I guess that you’re sensitive to ethnic prejudice. On the other hand, you may well hate “Anglos,” those people whose forebears came from Europe. I have notices that many people who are sensitive to ethnic slights are themselves prejudiced against others. Hypocrisy reigns.

      • Dominick Vila

        I don’t hate white Europeans, my ancestors are all from Spain (Galicia and the Basque land), and one of the best years in my life was the year I spent in Oxford, England, where I have close relatives and friends.
        Indeed, ethnic and cultural prejudice has been with us since the earliest days of civilization, and I doubt it will ever be eradicated in its entirety, but that does not mean we should ignore it or condone it.

        • CPAinNewYork

          True. That said, I still oppose giving the illegals a path to American citizenship, because they came here illegally. They forced their way in. Now they and the politicians that sense an advantage in supporting their loud demands for citizenship want to hand it to them.

          Just think, in one fell swoop, a group of Hispanic politicians can get all those votes by just loudly advocating for a bunch of criminals who got here by committing an illegal act.

          The whole idea disgusts me. These people cannot even speak English. To accommodate these SOBs, our cowardly government prints publications, including voting instructions, in the illegals’ native languages. To me, English is the language of the United States. Any other language is foreign and anyone who demands to speak only that language is anathema and should be kicked out of the country.

          • Dominick Vila

            Guess what, I also oppose giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. What I support is giving them legal residency (green cards) that allow them to work – and pay taxes – in the USA. I also believe that a long term solution involves ending the quota or preferential system we currently have.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    You gotta sorta feel sorry for Rubio at this point. Going from Golden Boy to water carrier for Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and the rest of the know-nothing crowd trying to dominate the Republican Party. It would have been interesting to see how he would run against Chris Christie in ’16. Now, I believe he will sit back and watch the train wreck of Cruz and Paul slugging it out for most Conservative while Christie racks up the nomination by appealing to common sense. One of the best things Christie could do at that point would be to pick Rubio as his running mate.

    • midway54

      “One of the best things Christie could do at that point would be to pick Rubio as his running mate.”

      I don’t think so and hope not. This guy was put into office by the multitude of yahoo and redneck Teabaggers in plentiful supply in Florida, which in many ways mirrors the same type crowd in Alabama and Mississippi. He has performed just the way that rational Floridians fearfully predicted he would: As an opportunist who focuses on the political winds wherever they may take him. You are absolutely correct about his association with Cruz the Demagogue, the mannequin-like Rand Paul, and of course Lee of Utah, the sycophantic lackey to his idol Cruz. I think sensible Floridians will vote Rubio out of office next cycle. This will free him to become a well paid lobbyist for the plutocrats in the war against ordinary American men and women.

    • Dominick Vila

      Whomever the GOP chooses as their nominee will probably pick a woman as running mate.