The caramelizing of the American electorate manifested itself last Tuesday in sweet, polychromatic splendor. Clearly, American voters — especially the youth, and ethnic communities of Hispanic and Asian-Pacific origin — chose “leaders who are likely to welcome rather than reject our nation’s courageous and deserving immigrants.”
With the elasticity of a yoga master, former stalwarts for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in the Senate, who had later pivoted to the Tea-Party right to survive reelection, including Orrin Hatch (who’s “willing to listen” on CIR), Lindsay Graham (who wants the poison pill of Birthright Citizenship added to CIR) and John McCain (who has moved from “complete the danged fence” to “support[ing]” CIR), are now bowing in “Downward Dog” to the popular will.
Sensing the prospect of irrelevance (an “angry white guy” problem) and perhaps extinction, much like the Beach Boys, whose fans — according to Bill Maher — “are dying” out, Republicans now are bending quite flexibly in an about-face “evolution” on CIR, including support for a path to citizenship, even if dubbed “amnesty.”
Post-election discussions of strategy among family- and employment-based immigration stakeholders have ranged from the taking of baby steps in the lame duck session to more fundamental reforms in the next Congressional term. Although in a different political environment I’ve recognized the CIR-piecemeal approach of politics as the art of the possible (“Timing is Everything for Hungry Immigration Reformers“), I think the country has shifted tectonically in its embrace of CIR, as confirmed by exit polls revealing a 65% preference among all voters for granting unauthorized immigrant workers “a chance at legal status.”
Like Lyndon Johnson upon his unforeseen ascent to the highest office in the land, the timing is perfect for President Obama to seize the moment and go BIG and go BOLD on CIR, as I suggest in my post-election interview on LXBN.TV, available in the 12-minute uncut version here, and in the summary version at this link and the video below:
In forthcoming blog posts, I’ll drill down with specific suggestions to improve the immigration system, to make it more fair and welcoming, to reverse the brain drain and instead to serve as a multi-trillion-dollar stimulus. I’ll also discuss strategy by — among other approaches — using GOP talking points to gain consensus on massive skill-based immigration quota increases.
As with the Fiscal Cliff and the imminent increase of revenue (through elimination of the Bush tax cuts) and the automatic spending cuts (demanded by Sequestration), so too with immigration. President Obama holds the upper hand, and Republicans can be made to stand tall like a skier in Dancer’s Pose or to fall in the new American yoga of immigration reform. His Administration’s exercise of executive power through DACA — a cost-free contribution to his reelection — is but one of many examples of “pen-stroking” actions he can take to change the system, preferably with, but if necessary, without, Congressional cooperation on legislation.