Much as they’ve promised, opponents of immigration reform have been pursuing multiple strategies to kill the President’s immigration actions. Over the past few days, we’ve seen the following:

1. House Republicans passed a bill by a 219-197 vote margin introduced by Florida Representative Ted Yoho which attempts to nullify the President’s actions. The bill is seen as symbolic and has no chance of becoming law. Republican leaders see this measure as a way for GOP hardliners to “vent”.  I personally suspect many of the individuals voting for the measure in districts with growing Latino populations will regret it in two years as this will be labeled a major anti-immigration vote, even if people voting for it try and argue it was about the constitutionality of the President’s announcements.

2. 17 states are suing the President claiming the announced changes violate the “Take Care Clause” of the US Constitution. The suit is being led by Texas’ Governor-elect Greg Abbott and is supported by governors in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. It’s interesting that Wisconsin is on the list as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been talked about as a presidential candidate. This could come back to hurt him as he tries to court Latino voters. New Jersey and Florida are not and it might be an indication that Chris Christie and Jeb Bush want to steer clear.

3. And then there is the looming budget deadline. Republican leaders have come up with an approach that avoids shutting down the federal government in an attempt to cut off funding for the presidential actions. Leaders are pushing funding the government for a full year except for the Department of Homeland Security which would be funded for just two or three months. There would be no riders that specifically prohibit funding the President’s initiatives. Democrats are apparently willing to allow a short budget extension for DHS as long as there are no riders prohibiting funding the initiatives and Speaker Boehner will need those votes.

For now, none of these measures are going to be able to stop implementation of the new DAPA program. And they’re apparently alienating the growing Latino electorate which is now starting to show up in polling numbers. A new poll from Michael Bloomberg’s Partnership for a New American Economy shows Latinos in battleground states backing Democrats over Republicans  by a two to one margin and another from Latino Decisions showing Hillary Clinton getting an astonishing 85% level of support from Latinos. That’s a full ten points better than any Democrat has ever gotten in a presidential election and could translate to one to two million additional votes for her versus what President Obama received in 2012.

The GOP is only 18 months out from the famous post-mortem from the 2012 election in which the party admitted that unless it could reverse the problems with Latino voters, it would be difficult to win the White House again. And now they’re moving in the opposite direction. The “fool’s gold” of doing well in a non-presidential election has given many Republicans the false sense that they’re in good shape. But there are two electorates in this country. There are the hard core voters who turn out every time – and the GOP does well with them which helps in years not divisible by four. And there are the voters who turn out for presidential elections. And the GOP has big problems with that group. In fact, as that electorate grows more diverse, they are even more inclined to vote for the Democrats.

The wisest move would be for Republicans to actually pursue immigration reform on their own (assuming this means more than just passing enforcement bills). No one really cares if they vote for one bill or split it up in to many bills. The final package is what matters. And this piecemeal approach seems to be what incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to see. It’s probably the only way to reverse the tremendous damage the GOP is inflicting on itself. Whether the party can get it together is pretty doubtful given their track record over the last ten years. So we’re pretty likely going to continue to watch the Whigification of the Republicans.

 

 

Greg Siskind