As we've seen today, a group of senators have jumped ahead of President Barack Obama's immigration proposal today and announced
their own plan. It's okay, for the most part, except for one glaring problem: Full citizen rights for undocumented immigrants are contingent
on Arizona wingnut Gov. Jan Brewer saying the border is "secure."
But lest you think this is some sort of accidental flaw, it isn't. And while conservatives are furious at this proposal, they shouldn't be. Because this is the perfect solution for them.
As I wrote back in December, Republicans face a lose-lose proposition on immigration.
Texas will be a battleground state by 2024. So math-adept Republicans are correct that they'll be electorally irrelevant unless they can make inroads with the Latino vote. (And let's not forget the Asian vote, considering it's now the fastest growing in the country.)
On the other hand, conservatives are right that legalizing 12 million Latinos would gift Democrats a treasure trove of Democratic voters [...]
Those new Democratic voters would accelerate the competitiveness of Arizona, Georgia, and Texas, while padding Democratic advantages in Colorado and Nevada (not to mention California and New Mexico).
Remember, Latinos are more likely to approve of socialism
than Occupy protesters
. Latinos are more pro-gay marriage and pro-choice than other Americans (due in most part to their youth—the median age of the Latino community is 18
). Republicans won't be winning this vote anytime soon.
But, Republicans don't need to gain parity with Latinos to be nationally competitive. They can do so by getting to 40 percent-ish of the vote. And to do that, they will have to shed their reputation as haters. So how do they do that?
The current proposal would allow Republicans to say, "Hey, we don't hate your kids! DREAMers get legalized." They would also give rural farm-state Republicans what they want—a legalized agricultural workforce. But everyone else? They'd be stuck in this legal limbo—safe from deportation, but unable to ... you guessed it—cast Democratic votes at the ballot box, because citizenship won't be granted until that border commission decides the border is secure. And that will be never.
It's actually a smart ploy by Republicans—pretend to move ahead on immigration while doing their best to prevent those immigrants from ever casting votes that will undoubtedly be cast against them.
But here's the silver lining—if the fate of those in-limbo immigrants really depends on those border-state governors, then look out. Because our challenge in the South has been motivating Latino voters into turnout out. If Texas Latinos voted at the same rates as California Latinos, the Lone Star State would already be a swing state.
And nothing will motivate them more than giving them the opportunity to decide the fate of their mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, cousins and aunts and extended family.
Update: Greg Sargent reports that the border commission can't hold the citizenship trigger hostage.
The framework calls for an increase in the number of unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance equipment, agents, and other measures designed to increase border security. The legislation will lay out specific targets as to how much border security needs to be increased by DHS; when those targets are met, the citizenship process goes forward, with the granting of probationary legal status to the undocumented.
If that's the case, then this is a surprisingly good deal. It would make for a far slower legalization proces than ideal, but with Republicans still wielding as much power as they have "ideal" is not possible. We get a humane policy dealing with our undocumented immigrants, Republicans get drones on the border.
Suddenly, what seemed like a good deal for the GOP is simply a good deal. Title changed to reflect that.