Seeing the apoplectic reaction of the Orcosphere over the deal struck on the immigration bill, I daresay that perhaps the Senate and the White House may have done something right. Amazing, isn’t it?
Ironically, this is an issue that will cause the most trouble for the Republicans. They run the gamut from practical pragmatism — allow the undocumented aliens already here some procedure that will gain them legal status — to the draconian measures sought by the likes of Tom Tancredo that have an odor of Arbeit Macht Frei. So no matter what position they take, they run the risk of either losing their hard-core right-wing anti-immigrant base (which includes the racists who think anyone with darker skin and a funny accent is a terrorist), or flushing any chance of gaining Hispanic voters, who are becoming a large voting bloc.
Outside of the Cuban community in South Florida, Hispanics gravitate to the Democratic party even if they share some of the same conservative family values as the Republicans. That’s because the rhetoric of people like Mr. Tancredo and the Southern Baptist Protestant zeal of the Religious Reich are a turn-off for those in the Latin community who are proud of their heritage, grateful to be able to work in a higher-paying job than the $6 a day in Mexico, and are stauchly Catholic. Family values are one thing, but they know racism and religious bigotry when they see it.
The Democrats have, by and large, welcomed the immigrant community into their party, but they run the risk of taking them for granted. There are meat-and-potatoes issues such as health care, education, and jobs that matter more to them than global warming. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, but when you’re out of work and your child is sick and you can’t afford to go to the doctor, you don’t really care if you’re using the right light bulb. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats address those priorities.
The bill still has a long way to go, and you can expect intense lobbying from both sides before it gets to the president’s desk. The problem is that it is a bipartisan effort and there will be enough manipulation on both sides to turn it into a mish-mosh (or is it guacamole?) just so one side or the other can take credit for it. Some people — and I mean some Democrats, too — will want to kill it just because there’s the chance it could make Mr. Bush and his “rational” approach look good. (I know; “Bush” and “rational” in the same sentence. Wow.) And there will be those on the right who won’t be happy until we have the Berlin Wall from Brownsville to San Diego and box cars full of Mexicans being shipped back. Meanwhile, people will still be dragging themselves across the Sonoran desert and dying to get here. But as far as some politicians are concerned, until they can vote, they don’t matter.
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.