The president said it, and so did Senate and House leaders: Immigration reform is a priority.
The Latino vote had enough of an impact on the general election for this group’s priorities to be taken into account. Comprehensive immigration reform was far and away among the top two priorities for Latino voters.
The lesson is that this issue, depending how it’s addressed, earns or loses votes needed to win several of the swing states in the Electoral College system.
The cost of offending Latinos with backwards and even inhumane positions on undocumented immigrants is much higher than what is earned among the most recalcitrant base, and this should be recognized. The example of what happened to Mitt Romney between the primaries and the general election can’t be ignored.
That’s why public figures ranging from Rep. John Boehner to commentator Sean Hannity and influential anti-tax activist Grover Norquist recognized that both this issue and millions of undocumented immigrants can no longer be disregarded.
This is an ideal, defining political moment to solidify a comprehensive immigration reform that includes security, takes into account the nation’s economic needs and regularizes the immigration status of millions of honest, hard-working people.
But this won’t be an easy path. The bipartisanship that exists today about the need for reform can melt away with the details. Therefore, it’s important for everyone from pro-reform activists to the business sector to exert pressure and remain vigilant so it all leads to a sensible law. No one should stay behind the fence as an observer.
The White House must now fulfill its commitment to push immigration reform and lead the process through its legislative allies. On the other hand, House Republicans must prevent anti-immigrant zealots within their caucus from derailing this opportunity by fixating on punitive solutions.
Otherwise, there will be a price to pay, like in the recent election. Latino voters know how to clearly identify, beyond election rhetoric, who understands the value of immigration and who uses it as a scapegoat. We hope the GOP takes advantage of this opportunity to fix its damaged relationship with the Latino electorate.