Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Obama Meets with Hispanic Lawmakers to Discuss Outlook on Immigration

Congressional Hispanic Caucus members met with President Obama yesterday to discuss the prospects of immigration legislation in the future, which the parties present agreed are slim to nil in the next couple of years.

“The reality is, we’re no longer on the House side in charge of the agenda,” said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D- Texas), who took part in the meeting. “We would never have had a vote on the Dream Act if the Republicans were in charge. So we need to understand that.”

The five Hispanic leaders and the President agreed that realistically, another chance at passing immigration legislation won’t take place until after the 2012 election.

However, the President says he is not giving up on the campaign promise he made in 2008.  He will use his State of the Union address next month to highlight the issue in hopes of swaying Republicans towards a more agreeable stance on immigration legislation.

The President also pledged to veto any punitive anti-immigrant laws if they should come to pass.  The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), said one of his priorities is to “enact policies that will better secure our borders and discourage illegal immigration, human smuggling and drug trafficking.”

Some Republican strategists have stressed that if the GOP wishes to make inroads with the Latino community they will have to let go of their uncompromising stance on immigration and show good faith on the issue to this increasing voting bloc.  The recent wave of anti-immigrant legislation across the nation by Republican lawmakers and the failed DREAM Act won’t help their position.

“As a practical political issue and as a principled position, the majority of the party needs to speak up against a very small minority that are coming at this from a jingoistic or racist perspective,” Rob Stutzman, a longtime Republican strategist based in California, said. “It’s time to really condemn and put that behind us.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says the political risks for the GOP are evident and at least a few are already coming to this realization.

“There are Republican senators who view the exclusion of Hispanic voters to be very short-sighted politically, and they are looking for a way to meet the needs of the Hispanic community without antagonizing their political base,” Durbin said.

La Times