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Matt Vespa

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January 15, 2013 - 6:31 pm

Yes, the current narrative has been about gun control, yet only 28% of Americans think it should be.  However, while the president plans to go after gun rights, he also plans to pass immigration reform – which has been the uncatchable unicorn on the Hill.  Everyone talks about it, and nothing gets done.  It’s very much aligned with the traditions on Congress.  However, for the sake of conservatism, we have to tackle it now before the next presidential election.

Mitt Romney got shellacked by Latinos.  Obama won that demographic 71%-27%, which is a fatal statistic for Republicans who wish to remain competitive on the national stage.  There’s Sen. Marco Rubio’s alternate Dream Act that Matt Lewis at The Daily Caller posted about shortly after the 2012 election.  In short, Lewis wrote that:

…the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.) Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship ‘could follow…’

[...]

Below are a few of the details being floated to be eligible for the W-1 visa:

- “Applicant must have lived in the U.S. for five year’s prior to the Act’s enactment”;

- Must have entered the country before age 14

- Must have good moral character

- “Applicant must not have committed a felony, must not have committed more than one misdemeanor with a jail term of more than 30 days, must not have committed a crime of moral turpitude, and must not have a final order of removal pending”‘

- Must have knowledge of the English language, U.S. history, “and of principles of U.S. government”

- Applicant must be 28 or younger at time of application (or 32 if they have a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college);

-  Must pay a $525 fee

- Must submit to a medical exam and a background check, submit biometric and biographic data, and register with the Selective Service.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour found the proposal “attractive,” but will Republicans be open to this more stringent form of amnesty?  It remains to be seen – but I expect the party to split right down the middle on this one.  However, with that said, Republicans need to show commitment and enthusiasm to this reform.  We cannot afford to become like the national version of the California GOP, who never recovered from the fallout of Prop. 187.  The last time the CAGOP won a statewide election after 1994 was in 2003 –– with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote on January 15 that the GOP could “roll Obama on Immigration,” if they’re willing to be more “ideologically nimble.”

The last House GOP effort to split the high-tech visas question from the path to citizenship question was an absurd partisan ploy. If Republicans want to get serious about it they should be able to make it work. The centerpiece would be something on increased immigration of skilled workers. That’s something the tech industry wants very much, it’s a great idea on the merits, and few influential people have any real beef with it. High tech visas will easily generate revenue to pay for some stepped-up enforcement. Then instead of adding on a poison pill so Democrats will block the bill, you need to add a sweetener. Not the broad path to citizenship, but something small like the DREAM Act. Now you’ve got a package that falls massively short of what Latino groups are looking for, but that I think Democrats will have a hard time actually blocking. After all, why would they block it? It packages three things—more skilled immigration, more enforcement, and help for DREAMers—they say they want. Blocking it because it doesn’t also do the broad amnesty that liberals want and conservatives hate would require the kind of fanaticism that is the exact opposite of Obama’s approach to politics.

I’m no fan of moderating the Republican Party.  We already have enough of squishy Republicans in the mix.  However, this issue speaks more to political survival.  At least Rubio’s plan has benchmarks, and does not take the “free-for-all” attitude ingrained in liberal immigration policies.  As an immigrant, I’ve struggled with this issue.  I want us to be a nation that welcomes everyone, but amnesty – the liberal version of it at least –  is unfair.  It’s cutting the lunch line.  Legal immigrants, especially those waiting for citizenship, have been in line for years, but illegals get special treatment because government is incompetent.  That’s not ethical.

We’ll see how this all develops.  I hope we can “roll Obama on immigration.”  It’ll be a stake through his heart, and that of the political left.  However, it all depends on how the Republican leadership handles it, and they’ve been less than stellar thus far.

Matt Vespa is a conservative blogger who contributes to CNS News, RedState, Noodle Pundit, and was formerly with Hot Air's GreenRoom.
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