Friday, November 21, 2014

Immigration Debate Explodes Despite Voter Desire for Change

Well, you think?

At the Los Angeles Times:
Far from settling matters, President Obama’s unilateral action on immigration all but ensures at least two more years of fierce and angry debate over one of the most contentious and polarizing issues facing the country.

It is a debate that presents opportunity and political risk to both parties, but especially Republicans, who are deeply divided among themselves and badly need to mend relations with a Latino and Asian American population growing bigger and more politically powerful each day.

And, with the loudest, most strident voices likely to dominate the discussion, it is a debate that will continue to mask a broad consensus among Americans, who want compromise and a fix to a decades-old problem — fashioned by Congress and the president working in tandem — rather than more of the partisan brick-throwing that has escalated over the past several days.

Exit polls this month found that nearly six in 10 voters supported legislation that would go further than Obama’s plan by establishing a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally — a striking ratio for a largely white, GOP-leaning electorate that swept Republicans to power across the country on Nov. 4.

Even here in Arizona, a state known for taking one of the hardest lines on illegal immigration, there is a strong desire to see the political skirmishing end.

“People want a solution,” said Chuck Coughlin, a GOP strategist who has advised two of the state’s top Republicans, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer, who have sometimes worked at cross-purposes on the issue. “They’re tired of the partisan stalemate and the finger-pointing by both sides.”

Immigration is a uniquely difficult and emotional issue, freighted with the weight of family ties and two broad, sometimes conflicting impulses. The United States, as the president suggested in his speech Thursday night, is both a land of laws and a nation of immigrants; squaring that circle and finding agreement somewhere in the middle has exceeded both the imagination and capacity of elected leaders for a generation.

Obama was never going to placate all sides by going it alone, a move he says was forced upon him by hostile, intransigent Republicans in Congress. What he has done, though, has heightened tensions in the short term and cast the conflict forward into the race to succeed him, placing every White House hopeful on the spot for the next two years.

Because Obama’s actions are not binding on his successor “the next president is going to have to decide whether to continue these policies after 2017,” said Matt Barreto, a University of Washington political scientist who conducts extensive polling among Latinos nationwide. “Whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Chris Christie or Marco Rubio, they’re all going to have to take a position, because it’s a policy that the next president, through his or her executive power, will be overseeing.”

The danger Democrats face is alienating the white working-class voters who have never much cared for the president and who could view the influx of newly hirable immigrants as unwelcome job competition.

Moreover there are voters of all stripe who recoil from the notion of rewarding — or at least excusing — those who break the law, which is how many critics portrayed the outcome of Obama’s single-handed move...
Still more.