Maria’s response to a new poll by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The poll shows the public broadly supports provisions of the Arizona law giving police increased powers to stop and detain people who are suspected of being in the country illegally.
The results of this poll are not surprising in the least. The anger is real, the fear is as well. What is not so apparent when you look at this poll in isolation are two things: First, that taken alone, of course the answer to the question of the poll is going to be overwhelming support for actions against illegal immigration. No one is for illegal immigration as such. In the absence of an actionable, sensible alternative, people are going to be overwhelmingly in support of taking some action to a problem that they have felt has negatively impacted them for some time.
Secondly, public support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform continues to hold steady at a majority anywhere from the mid 50s to low 70s. And in fact in a recent Hart poll of Arkansas, Ohio, Colorado and Indiana, an average of 67 percent of voters supported the Democratic framework for an immigration overhaul that was just introduced in the Senate. And these states are not exactly hotbeds of progressive liberalism.
The American people are smart, humane and fair. And so would be the proposals on immigration for which Democrats are trying to gain Republican support. So far there is none. And this is not the President’s fault, and it is not the Democrats’ fault. If Republicans could supply half of the Republicans who supported CIR just two years ago, we could make this happen next week and show the American people that Washington can indeed deliver on this issue that has plagued us for so long. But alas, the one stalwart supporter has completely turned on us on this, as he has thrown away any courage of conviction and dove into the currents of convenience. Yes, I am talking about John McCain. And his friend Lindsey Graham, in trying to give his friend political cover for his inconceivably opportunistic flip-flop, has also walked away from this issue. This is not leadership. It is cheap politics bordering on such the absurd as to be funny. Only it isn’t. Because this lack of leadership leads to the inaction that leads to misguided, wrongheaded, and racist laws like the ones being passed by Arizona. In a vacuum of leadership, leaders will step up. Its just that if the good ones don’t, the others will. In the end and in the long run, it will be the Republican Party that will suffer a setback as Latinos will never feel welcome in their ranks. And that will be the death knell for a party looking to regain majority status and the White House in the years to come.
As far as immigration being a powerful campaign tool in 2010, I don’t think that will be the case. It didn’t happen in 06 or in 08 when in fact every candidate who tried to use this as a tool or shall we say, hammer, lost. And the fact that Pete Wilson is running Meg Whitman’s campaign in California should speak volumes to voters in California and nationwide, especially Latinos. Arizona is our generation’s Prop 187. Ask Pete Wilson and the Republican Party in California how that has worked out for them in the long run.
This article first appeared on Politico.