A Republican president signed Simpson-Mazzoli into law in October 1986. The bill attracted support and opposition from both Republicans and Democrats (it’s even named for the moderate Republican and the moderate Democrat who championed it). Is the Republican Party better off as a result? Please show your work. Because as it turns out, Hispanic leaders in the Democratic Party bitterly opposed Simpson-Mazzoli at the time. Reps. Edward Roybal (D-CA) and Tony Coehlo (D-CA) fought the bill’s penalties on employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens, arguing that those penalties provided an incentive for businesses to refrain from hiring anyone who looked like they might be foreign. Along with Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, they demagogued the immigration reform bill that bubbled through Congress across five years as “discriminatory.” Are today’s Democrats more or less likely to similarly demagogue any “comprehensive immigration reform” in order both to water down its security side and to make sure Republicans reap no benefits from passing it?

Again, please show your work.

The fact is, millions of Americans justifiably see any attempt at “comprehensive immigration reform” now as a fraud. The last one was a fraud. Washington has not gotten more honest in the years since 1986, it has arguably gotten less honest. The current Democratic leadership very obviously puts its electoral interests above all other concerns. Identity politics are the glue that holds that party together. Democrats push “comprehensive immigration reform” now largely because they believe it will turn out as the 1986 version has turned out, benefiting their party, and they’re probably right.

There is no quick-fix solution to the GOP’s poor performance with Hispanic voters. Having better candidates and sunnier rhetoric can certainly help, but minting millions more Hispanic voters through amnesty will end up making it more difficult for Republicans to win elections, no matter what role Republicans might play in passing that amnesty. If there is a solution to the GOP’s growing problem with Hispanic voters, it is unlikely to lie in a policy that increases the power of a party that is essentially opposed to the free market and upward mobility. The solution is to articulate values that resonate and create the economic conditions by which millions of Americans of all backgrounds find it easier to pursue and obtain the American dream, and who then realize with Republican messaging that Democratic policies stand in their way. But doing that while a Democrat is in the White House standing on the neck of the U.S. economy and driving poverty and dependence on government to record levels is not likely to happen. Democrats will continue to do things that benefit Democrats. Poverty, dependence, and identity politics all favor Democrats. So we can expect more of all of those, as long as Obama is in the White House.