In a transcript released Wednesday Obama asserts that if he is reelected that will send a wakeup call to Republicans to pass immigration reform.
During an interview with the Des Moines Register, Obama mentioned that first he thinks he can get enough support for a “grand bargain” to reduce the deficit in his second term. He’ll get that done by cutting down on spending of which he outlines would be “$2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar.”
President Obama says he’s committed to immigration reform
The president went on to state that he would work with Republicans to reduce costs to health care programs. Then he mentioned his commitment to immigration reform.
“The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt,” he said. “Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”
The reason why the president is confident immigration reform will get passed is because the scenario he just mentioned is a “relatively new phenomenon,” according to his explanation.
The interpretation that Republicans have alienated Latinos to such a degree that they will turn out in numbers to support the president has become a rallying point in the midst of campaign rhetoric. The president was quick to note that both president George Bush and Karl Rove were “smart enough to understand the changing nature of America.”
For this reason, he states, “they’re (Republicans) going to have a deep interest in getting that done.”
Immigration reform may not be far off
Several supporters indicated that a path to immigration reform in the second Congress might not be too far off.
A House Democratic aide relayed on condition of anonymity that in the House they don’t need a lot of Republican support, only enough. The aide pointed to the example of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act was passed with eight Republicans in support within the House, but it didn’t pass in the Senate because of the filibuster. The filibuster began as a Senate parliamentary maneuver that allows its members to talk to death legislation they oppose.
Support among fellow Republicans including Congressmen Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be pivotal for that to happen. Advocates of immigration reform have echoed that statement. Frank Sharry, director of America’s Voice, was quick to assert that they expect more bipartisan collaboration in the next Congress.
“If Obama wins, in 2013 the Republican Party will have to come to the table to work on immigration reform that includes citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants or else deepen the political hole they have dug for themselves with the fastest growing group of new voters in the country,” Sharry said in a statement.
Yet, Republicans would also caution that they were the ones who introduced immigration reform bills in the past and are still willing to work with Democrats. In 2006, Republican Senators introduced their own version of comprehensive immigration reform, but it failed to pass. Some of the sponsors included Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Organizations such as the National Immigration Forum and the League of Latin American Citizens indicated that as of right now they’re working to get as much support on the ground including reaching to Republicans to make immigration reform a possibility in the next Congress. They too believe that the “winds of the immigration debate are changing.”
NIF pointed to what they consider is a “key” example of the growing chorus of conservative voices for immigration reform. Prominent conservative leader Grover Norquist two weeks ago “spoke about the need for Republicans to get it right on immigration during their Midwest Summit.”
LULAC’s executive director Brent Wilkes added that they’re working with getting support from the business community including joining with Republican figures including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He said Republicans are in support of business stakeholders.
“We’re actively trying to push as many partners as possible. There’s a coalition that’s needed including labor, business and advocates in the faith community,” said Wilkes. “I think there’s a good shot.”
Yet, not everyone is that optimistic. Analysts say it all depends on how the landscape looks after Election Day.
Congress is still dealing with the Fiscal Cliff. The Senate filibuster is under a lawsuit and the court date is not set until Dec. 3. Polls dictate that the House and the Senate races are tightening between Democrats and Republicans. In addition, even Democratic aides have indicated that Congress is too divided and immigration reform is not likely to pass.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said it’s going to take a change in leadership for that to happen.
“The White House refused to speak to us on immigration reform,” said Diaz-Balart when explaining that he along with his chief of staff reached out to the president’s transition team of what he considered dozens of times to work on immigration reform. “To this day, we have never even got a call back. The reason we don’t have immigration reform is because Barack Obama has refused to do it.”
If Romney won the election would he have the same problems with immigration reform
Yet, in the scenario that Romney wins, he might also have to deal with some contention is his own party.
Romney’s transition team called the “Readiness Party” has grown to more than 100 officials, preparing dossiers on potential nominees and gaming out legislative strategy, according to Mike Allen’s Politico’s Playbook briefing.
Chris Arterton a professor at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management indicated that immigration reform is a possibility under Romney’s administration, but it’s not without its drawbacks.
“There might be some prospects of change in the new Congress even if Romney has won, but I think that is going to require a very significant move on the part of the Republican Party and it’s part and parcel of a more difficult problem that Romney is going to have with his own base in the Republican ranks,” said Arterton. “If Romney wins how is he going to deal with the very conservative caucus of his own party?”