GOP and U.S. benefit from immigration reform
It’s clear that advocates for immigration reform in and out of Congress are employing a full-court press now to push House Republicans to take up legislation on the issue.
GOP members of the House, including 3rd District Rep. Scott Tipton, should do just that — not because they are being pressured by Democrats or advocacy groups, but because it is in their own best interest and that of the country to do so.
It could be President Romney
According to some analyses of recent presidential election results, if Mitt Romney had received the same percentage of the Hispanic vote in 2012 that George W. Bush did in 2004, he would be president now. The Hispanic vote was especially important in Colorado, Florida and Nevada.
CNN noted immediately after last year’s presidential election that Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, a huge drop from Bush’s 44 percent in 2004.
Furthermore, Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. population. The number of registered Hispanic voters grew 25 percent just from 2008 to 2012, CNN said.
Passing immigration reform won’t guarantee all Hispanic voters suddenly cast their ballots for Republicans. But many Hispanics are independent-minded or conservative, and would be willing to vote for Republicans if they knew the party was trying to address immigration in a meaningful way.
Reform is fiscally conservative
As Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet said last weekend, the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate earlier this year is estimated to shrink the federal budget deficit by $900 billion. That’s not Bennet’s number, but an estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
So, conservatives worried about the nation’s budget deficit and the federal debt should be supportive of the Senate’s immigration reform legislation or something very similar to it.
Solid support in this region
Additionally, as a variety of agricultural interests in this region and across the country have said, it will help farmers and ranchers obtain needed, legal labor for their operations and therefore it will have a stabilizing effect on the economy, especially in places such as western Colorado.
On top of that, as a poll released this week indicates, large numbers of people in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District support the kind of immigration reform outlined in the Senate bill. The poll was sponsored by a pro-reform group, America’s Voice. Even so, the question asked was fairly straightforward and the results — 77 percent support overall and 74 percent among Republicans — were impressive.
Critics of the Senate bill call it an amnesty measure for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. It’s true the measure would create a path to citizenship for current illegal immigrants, but that path would take 13 years and would require that they not have any other criminal record.
Also, the bill would significantly beef up immigration enforcement in several key areas. First and most important, it would nearly double the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents and it would require completion of 700 miles of fence along the Mexican border. In addition, it would require all businesses to use the E-Verify system to ensure they only hire workers who are citizens or in this country legally.
Time for the House to act
Tipton and other Republicans in the House say they hope to move forward with a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, although Tipton did say this week he believes many of the pieces could be considered in unison.
Democratic leaders in the House on Wednesday pushed Republicans to take up immigration reform quickly. House Speaker John Boehner was noncommittal, but rank-and-file members like Tipton should urge their leaders to take action.
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Ed: A previous version of this story included an incorrect headline.