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A security guard looks out of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in New York. REUTERS/Keith Bedford
As you watch the immigration debate play out over the coming weeks and months, watch how these three groups play out:

The reformers
This includes most Democrats and perhaps a handful of Republicans. They want reform on the merits—having an undocumented underclass is bad policy—and on the politics. For Democrats, it's catering to a priority of one of their most important (and growing) constituencies (not just Latinos, but Asians as well), and for Republicans, it's the realization that they won't win another national election (or a personal one) unless they can eat into Latino support for Democrats.

The problem for Republicans in this camp is that their efforts are a long play—Latinos won't be switching their votes by 2016. But their party's future prospects won't improve until Latinos start doing so. Eventually.

The fake reformers
These are people who think that they can improve with Latinos by changing their "tone" and pretending to seek reform. These include people like Sen. Marco Rubio, who propose a path to citizenship, but only after the GOP certifies the border as "secure". As you well know, they'll never do that, so that 13 million new, heavily Democratic voters never enter the voter pool. They seek to create a legal limbo, where undocumented immigrants aren't rounded up and deported, but are still denied the rights of citizenship.

The xenophobes
The bulk of the GOP considers the fake reformers sellouts, as even the mildest reforms are "reward" for "lawbreakers". They cling to the fantasy of mass deportations and the notion that 1) you can sweep our nation clear of the undocumented, and 2) that our nation could function without that source of cheap labor.

Democrats are mostly united behind genuine reform, though they include a smattering of xenophobes like Montana Sen. Jon Tester. Republicans, on the other hand, are divided between those who want half-measures, hoping it's enough to arrest their decline among Latinos, and the angry white male xenophobes who dominate their grassroots (and the House GOP caucus).

You can lend your voice to this debate by signing this Daily Kos/Worker's Voice petition thanking President Barack Obama for his call for comprehensive reform.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sen. Marco "Polo" Rubio (7+ / 0-)

    looking for a trade route out of irrelevance for the GOP

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:45:59 AM PST

  •  Ted Cruz (7+ / 0-)

    Texas's 1st Hispanic Senator- Against

    He has already become quite an embarrassment to Texas.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:49:14 AM PST

    •  Between Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (6+ / 0-)

      The Jokes write themselves

      I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

      by JML9999 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:52:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ted Cruz's "rule of law" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Desert Rose, Eric Nelson

      Thanks for the link to that article, DRo.

      So Ted Cruz is worried about respect for the rule of law if people who are already in the U.S. as undocumented workers are given a process for becoming legal and documented. All those other people outside the country who played by the rules would be disadvantaged by changing the rules now, he argues.

      And yet his own father, a Cuban, came to the United States in 1957. He has become a naturalized citizen by now.

      I don't know what Rafael Cruz's status was when he came, although, since he says he didn't speak a word of English when he arrived, it is possible that he did not have a green card.

      Whether he did or not, between 1957 and now the immigration rules for Cubans who arrive without documentation have undergone changes.

      Did it violate the "rule of law" when the law was changed to say that a Cuban who reached "dry land" in the U.S. got to stay as a permanent resident, a rule that did not apply to people from any other country?

      The "rule of law" means operating in accordance with the law. It doesn't mean that a law is set in stone, never to be changed.

      •  Agreed. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Desert Rose, True North, Eric Nelson

        This is a conflict between Cubans and other Hispanics that is yet to play out.

        Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

        by DRo on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:22:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Background (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        True North
        Cruz was born Rafael Cruz in Canada, where his Cuban father and Irish-American mother had moved for the 1960s oil boom. They had met at an oil exploration business in Texas.
        As a teenager, his father fought for Fidel Castro against Fulgencio Batista. “They didn’t know Castro was a Communist, what they knew was that Batista was a cruel and oppressive dictator,” Cruz said earlier this year.
        After being imprisoned and tortured by the Batista regime, the elder Rafael Cruz came to America on a student visa with nothing but $100 sewn into his underwear. He made his way through the University of Texas by washing dishes.

        Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

        by DRo on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:31:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this information (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I had looked around a little and not discovered this info.

          Ted Cruz probably doesn't really think that amending the law is the same as violating the rule of law. But he talks about this issue as if that's what you're doing if you adopt rules that are more favorable to someone than the old rules were.

          Yet, if we look at the history of the entry into the U.S. of Cubans, we can see that law and policy has changed over the years. Along the way, Cubans became the only people who snagged permanent residence if they could reach the United States, just on the strength of being Cuban citizens. "Undocumented" doesn't apply if the federal government documents you on arrival, no questions asked.

          I haven't heard him denouncing that change, but that could just be my ignorance of what he's said.

  •  The "I've got mine" crowd is out loud and (9+ / 0-)

    proud. The big problem is we have an ever increasing class of low wage slaves. Just because it isn't called slavery doesn't mean it isn't slavery. The other problem is that this creates downward pressure on wages. This is one of the reasons why we have a middle class that is barely hanging on.

    Of course everyone blamed the slaves for stealing jobs bac kin the bad old days also.

    •  Slaves *did* lower wages. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CwV, juancito

      One reason so many White Guys were willing fight against the Confederacy was that they knew they could never compete against slave labor.

      That is why any solution to our immigration problem must not allow people to stay with sub-citizen status. Either they go home (unlikely) or we grant them full, voting Citizenship.

      No underclass! They must be here as equals or not at all.

      •  Exactly right (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson, juancito

        cheap labor does suppress wages and lack of documents make it easy to keep that cheap labor cheap.
        Make them legal, whether citizens or on work visas or whatever, and it becomes much more difficult to screw them out of decent wages.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:21:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Both Lincoln & Marx (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bmcphail, a2nite

        did make comparisons to conditions of slaves and those working in the northern factories.

        Also, in the antebellum slave states, it was common to use migrants, such as the Irish, for the really dangerous, life and limb threatening, kind of jobs, rather than slaves. Why risk your private property?

        These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

        by HugoDog on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:33:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  New Basin Canal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          The New Basin Canal was constructed by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company, incorporated in 1831 with a capital of 4 million United States dollars. The intent was to build a shipping canal from Lake Pontchartrain through the swamp land to the booming Uptown or "American" section of the city, to compete with the existing Carondelet Canal in the Downtown Creole part of the city. Work commenced the following year. Yellow fever ravaged workers in the swamp in back of the town, and the loss of slaves was judged too expensive, so most of the work was done by Irish immigrant laborers. The Irish workers died in great numbers, but the Company had no trouble finding more workers to take their place, as shiploads of poor Irishmen arrived in New Orleans, and many were willing to risk their lives in hazardous backbreaking work for a chance to earn $1 a day. By 1838, after an expense of $1million, the 60-foot (18 m) wide 3.17-mile (5.10 km) long canal was complete enough to be opened to small vessels drawing 6 feet (1.8 m), with $0.375 per ton charged for passage. Over the next decade the canal was enlarged to 12 feet (3.7 m) deep, 100 feet (30 m) wide, and with shell roads alongside. No official count was kept of the deaths of the immigrant workers; estimates ranging from 4,000 to 30,000 have been published, with most historical best guesses falling in the 8,000 to 20,000 dead range. Many were buried with no marking in the levee and roadway fill beside the canal.

          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 03:00:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I just hope the news outlets don't fall for fakers (8+ / 0-)

    Giving false credit to those who claim a willingness to provide a road to citizenship - but only after a signed sealed (Brewer approved!!) certification of border integrity.

    Senator Flake (AZ) was on NPR this morning pushing the requirement to certify no leaks at the border as the hurdle that must be overcome. You all know who he'll want to give signature authority on that certification.

  •  let's get all the likely 2016 GOP Pres contenders (5+ / 0-)

    on the video record regarding a path to citizenship.  Ideally, confront the GOP official with what he or she said (read the person's actual earlier quotation) in the past about a path to citizenship and ask what the official now supports.  If the two differ, ask why the official has changed his or her position / "or as some would say, 'flip-flopped'," on the issue.

  •  From what I've been reading and hearing, (6+ / 0-)

    it appears that they're going to pass immigration reform with the proviso that the borders are sufficiently protected (only the southern border, BTW). Rachel said it's going to be left up to Jan Brewer. If that's the case, there will never be a path to citizenship, or even legal status. I'm happy the "sing" petitions, but they need to fix that, or we've got nuthin'.

  •  What I haven't seen yet is a comparison (5+ / 0-)

    of the president's plan and the senate plan.

    That Southwest Commission crap has got to be a no-go.

  •  in the reformer bucket, i think it's important (0+ / 0-)

    to appreciate that 'having an undocumented underclass is bad policy', but also that this has been the policy which has gotten our food on table and construction jobs filled for ~50 yrs

    so the smarter bunch of that reformer group should be able to appreciate the 12M people here, that have worked their butts off, and not been included in the system, to many degrees, and still be able to kiss some butt to whatever constituency doesn't want to hear that reality spoken

    and D's are the big  beneficiaries, hopefully

    what lincoln said

    by rasfrome on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:01:21 AM PST

  •  "Illegal Alien" issues (0+ / 0-)

    There is a major difference between "immigration reform" and working through the politically created "illegal alien" mess we are in today.

    Immigration reform is long over-due. People wait a decade for green cards, the road to legal citizenship is hard and costly, and forces many with legal visas to overstay and become "illegal."
    I don't see any effort to help those who followed our rules, worked their butts off, sent for their families only to be denied.

    Now these same people see the political power in Washington representing not them, not American citizens, but "illegals" in a major effort to seek "fairness" for the 11 million or 20 million illegals in the country. (no one knows for sure how many.)
    Obama keeps saying "FAIRNESS" for all in his speeches. What the hell is "FAIR" about the gang of eight proposal for the American citizen both born here and naturalized?

    There should be "path to citizenship" for the generations of "illegals", but that might be an open discussion for their children.

    However, those who came to America in violation of our laws, no matter if unenforced by the Federal Government, should be considered for permanent residency and given work permits, but never the benefits of our precious American citizenship.

    In this way, undocumented relatives can stay with families after they are checked out for criminal activity. However  they should not be given the right to vote and have an impact on the political structure of the country.

    Anyone not coming forward to be registered would be subject to deportation.

    I think that would be FAIR to everyone considering the situation.

    •  So you want to create an underclass (0+ / 0-)

      of individuals who will be paying taxes, owning property, and contributing to their communities but who will have no say in its governance. How democratic.

      And I also don't think you understand how permanent residence works. Which benefits of citizenship are you wanting to withhold exactly?

  •  I'm against immigration... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional

    ...and I'm not a "xenophobe".

    We have large numbers of unemployed people in our country already. Bringing more people in will lower the wages of Americans.

    (There are "studies" that say otherwise, but you only need to look at who pays for such studies. We have learned form the Climate Change debate that "studies" can be made to say anything.)

    -- Educated immigrants lower wages for educated Americans. Try being 40 years old and getting a job in IT these days!

    -- Uneducated immigrants lower wages for uneducated Americans. Why hire and train Black kids when Brown men can be imported for so much cheaper?

    So many of the anti-immigration voices are known racists, that it is easy (and intellectually lazy) to assume that racism in the only reason for opposing immigration. It's not.

    When we increase immigration, are we helping the country? Or are we helping the people who own the country?  I wish more progressives would ask themselves this question.
    But whatever policy we choose needs to recognize that the immigration debacle is a net loss for the American worker, and a contributing factor to the lower wages and increased wealth of the 1%. We need to discourage future immigration, after we have fixed the current mess.

    If Microsoft need programmers, perhaps they can interview some of the guys they recently laid off. The Path to Citizenship should not go through the HR offices of the Fortune 500.

    That said, I recognize reality. We cannot send 11 million people home, and we cannot keep them here without granting them voting rights. I support a path to full citizenship (not "green cards") for all illegals. But let's not let ourselves be put into this position again!

  •  Oh Kos, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davehouck, DRo, a2nite, CwV

    you do not want me to sing any thing.  Screech!

    United Citizens beat Citizens United

    by ThirtyFiveUp on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:14:23 AM PST

  •  Hiring Enforcement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If we create a path to citizenship for people here without documentation, but do nothing to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers, the people most likely to be harmed are exactly those we're trying to help: recent Hispanic immigrants.

    Put yourself in the place of an employer who hires a lot of low-skilled workers. If you have a choice between hiring a Hispanic with limited skills that does not speak much English who is here legally and has the full legal protection of our labor laws, and one that does not, which will you choose? Many will choose to continue to hire undocumented workers because they will work for less, and can be abused and even cheated out of their pay without consequence.

    Enforcement of laws against hiring the undocumented needs to be a part of this discussion.

  •  I just signed the petition (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Eric Nelson

    And was going to sing it as well, but wasn't sure what melody to use.

    Glad to see this issue is finally seeing some action in congress.

    Love one another

    by davehouck on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:19:53 AM PST

  •  The wingnuts are people who want some sort of (0+ / 0-)

    Leave-It-To-Beaver America that existed on their old black and white televisions.  Change scares the crap out of them because it makes things different.  They want to go back to what they think we were and will damn to hell all who deny them their ideals. (Their ideal president is a white guy and their neighbors down the street are white too.)  They don't want any Spanish speaking people in town, however I am not sure they are ready to give up tacos and enchiladas yet.

  •  Nailed it. Fake reform. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maddow covered this well last night -- they want to give Jan Brewer the right to determine whether our borders are "secure" before any action takes place.  Our borders will never be completely "secure". They want to appear to do something about immigration without actually doing anything.

    Why are we helping them with their messaging?

    Fool me once.....shame on....uh.....WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN!!!!

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:27:11 AM PST

  •  There are (changing) contours to immigrants also (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Immigration has changed and evolved continuously over American history. Hence, immigrants have changed and evolved.

    For a long time, the GOP could appeal to immigrants because large numbers were one of two type of refugee:

    1. They were refugees from oppressive governments (Scots, Irish, Jews, Eastern Europeans, Cambodians, etc.)
    2. They were economic refugees that were desperate for work ... any work.

    The GOP could appeal to the first by being 'anti-government'. That's appealing to someone fleeing a brutal, totalitarian regime (think Ayn Rand).

    They could appeal to the second by being 'pro-entrepreneur' ... even as they ruthlessly exploited them as low-wage labor.

    Now, two things are happening.

    1. Most of the political and economic refugee groups have second and third generations that are 'post-refugee'. They didn't suffer government oppression first-hand and they know how badly their parents and grandparents were exploited.

    2. There is a whole new class of 'career-builder' immigrants. They aren't so much fleeing their home countries as looking to build the kind of career and life that still fits America better than most places (although that is rapidly changing too). This group is generally well-educated and progressively aligned. They may also not be that loyal. If the economy takes off in their home country, they may want to return.

    The fun comes if you take Kos' three categories of residents and juxtapose them with my two categories of current immigrant:

    Reformers + career-builders: there is strong social alignment, but a slight tension because they may be seeking the same jobs.

    Reformers + post-refugees: same as above.

    Fake Reformers + career-builders: there is social tension, but career-builders may split slightly more to the GOP because they are in it for their self interest.

    Fake Reformers + post-refugees: big tension as the post-refugees see past the BS

    Xenophobes + career-builders: strong social tension, but cynical career-builders may be able to turn the tables and exploit the xenophobes (think Rupert Murdoch).

    Xenophobes + post-refugees: huge tension. The post-refugees will probably be lost for generations.

    Bottom line: The GOP used to have a hook into immigrants. Now it has lost most of them and with the rest, it is as likely to be played by them as it is to play them.

    Just my $0.00002

    Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

    by grapes on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:29:17 AM PST

  •  I'm in Vegas and just while ago, I was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    picking up lunch and this is what I heard for the mid day news report over the radio in the restaurant I had stopped in to pick up lunch,

    "President Obama is here in Vegas this afternoon, to give support for a new push for immigration reform that could possibly give 11 million undocumented workers a path to citizenship.  The proposal was unveiled yesterday by Senator Rubio and other co sponsors and the President will open a conversation to support Senator Rubio's plan and to discuss other details on immigration reform. Senator Rubio has worked to create a plan......blah blah blah"

    WHAT??  Did I fall asleep and wake up to hear that the President is going on a tour to support Rubio's idea??

    The President is opening discussion for his own plans, not anyone else's!!  

    I was so livid!

  •  hidin' yer starz, kos? (0+ / 0-)

    s'okay: i've been lured away anyhow...
    who dat? the LEADERS.

    * Join: The Action: End the Bush Tax Cuts for Richest Two Percent * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:37:48 AM PST

  •  Frankly, I find this shift hilarious (0+ / 0-)

    The gun control debate didn't go anywhere, filibuster reform didn't happen. The debt/deficit can got kicked down the road a few months, and the economy is still flat.

    What a great time to pivot to immigration. We have 6 stories about it on the front page currently, with more to come.

    Are we going to see healthcare 2.0, where the issue gets bogged down for way too long and costs Dems the house + senate in 2014?

    Fun times ahead.

  •  Deficit reduction??? (0+ / 0-)

    Is there any evaluation on the savings of stupid enforcement, detention, agents for ICE raids, that could be possible with a human and humane border policy? Are we adding drones and more record keeping and more fencing and the bureaucracy of a southwest governors commission on top of everything else?

  •  It's unbelievable how much rank nativism (0+ / 0-)

    exists among people who use this site. Let me say-- just to be brutal about it--that I don't actually think that you or I have MORE right to a job than some guy from Honduras.

    That's right, even though we were born here. OMG!  The only way to end the problem of 'rate-busting' is for people in the same industry to unite inclusively. Aside from that, it's the same short-sighted mentality that led vigilante mobs of white working men to physical expel Chinese workers on the West Coast. Knights of Labor endorsed that, if I'm not mistaken. Protecting a relatively privileged position within a segmented labor market, by trying to keep people out, erect barriers and circle the wagons. A losing strategy.

    I'm somewhat more sympathetic to the issue of employment visas, especially when used to brain-drain impoverished countries that invested in education and need their skilled workers. But when I hear IT people complaining about their situation, I can't help but think of the fate of the hand-loom weavers.

    Human reason is beautiful and invincible --Milosz, Incantation

    by juancito on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 09:32:55 PM PST

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