It is highly likely that immigration reform will become the key issue facing the 114th Congress next year. Action taken by the Republican controlled government will likely decide the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and more. Not enacting comprehensive immigration reform could very well be the reason for a Republican loss in 2016.
The estimate is that when the election takes place in two years 28 million Latinos will be eligible to vote. The numbers of Hispanics and African-Americans increase each year while the Caucasian community diminishes. Future elections will be decided by huge blocks of groups we used to call ‘minorities’ and by women.
Leaders in the Hispanic community have little faith that Republicans will pass legislation of the magnitude they would prefer. The consensus is that few if any on the right wing favor a path to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented residents. Latinos are counting on President Obama to take executive action to protect at least a portion of their people.
What Mr. Obama can do is defer deportation, and protect parents who arrived in our country as children, and now have children who were born in the United States. These two executive orders could affect as many as four million undocumented residents.
Exit polls in some states indicated that Democrats lost the election because they failed to place immigration reform in a priority position. Hispanic voters are an increasing block. In Colorado, the President won 87 percent of the Latino vote. Mark Udall, who lost his bid for the Senate Tuesday, was not supported by Hispanics. 47 percent of voters said they didn’t know where he stood on the issue.
Informed politicians and their constituents are cognoscente that a reform of the immigration system would be beneficial to the nation’s economy. In June, 2013, Senate bill S.744 was passed by a margin of 68-32. Contained in the bill is increased border security, new measures requiring employers to affirm that employees they hire have proper documentation, and legalization of present and future immigrants who are highly skilled.
It is estimated that the result would be an increase of approximately 158 billion dollars over the next 10 years in tax revenue. Over time the net increase would grow as the number of legal and legalized immigrants expands.
Although immigration reform continues to be a ‘hot button’ issue, a review of the situation and possible solutions reveals both problems and possibilities.
What cannot be done is mass deportation as some more radical Congressmen have suggested. Whereas legalization would help to decrease the deficit, such action would increase the deficit by billions of dollars; and how would it be possible to achieve such a monumental task?
The Census Bureau unveiled some interesting statistics about our population. While Caucasians are having fewer children and are having them later in life, Hispanic and African-American birth rates have stayed steady. As of 2013, Caucasians, (white, but not Hispanic or Latino), comprised 62.6 percent of our population. Black or African-American were 13.2 percent of our citizenry. Hispanics are 17.1 percent and the fastest growing demographic. Women make up 50.8 percent of our population.
The 49.2 percent which make up ‘all-white’ males is divided during election years, with a slightly larger percentage calling themselves conservatives. All future elections will be decided by minorities and women; and the percentage of all three groups will continue to rise, while the all white male group will decline.
Issues important to Latinos, African-Americans and women will have to be addressed. Immigration will be the first challenge for the party which now controls both houses. The 2016 election is less than two years away.
By James Turnage