Felicia Muftic: Immigration is this year’s third rail
Grand County, CO Colorado
Anyone who has ever stared down at subway tracks knows that the electric power to move the trains is fed through a third rail. You get zapped if you touch it.
Both Democrats and Republicans have their third rail issues and, in a hot election year like this one, they will posture, pontificate and pretend, but not perform. They will hop on the platform and hope not to get plastered in the polls if they make one imperfect slip of the tongue.
Immigration is one of those electric issues that will impact the upcoming Colorado Senate race this year.
The Arizona immigration law provides the perfect platform for Republicans to rally their largely white constituency. Colorado Republican primary Senate candidates have already jumped on that bandwagon, supporting the Arizona approach in unison.
Some experts believe the Hispanic vote will play a decisive role in Colorado, Nevada and California midterms, giving Democrats an edge. Some dismiss the Hispanic vote because “they do not turn out to vote, especially in a non-presidential year.”
If the anti-immigration leaders in Colorado persist in putting an Arizona type law on the ballot, that could motivate Colorado’s 400,000 registered Hispanics to turn out in droves, giving the Democratic candidate an advantage in the November election that Republicans had not intended.
There are some measures that neither party is likely to include in any proposed immigration reform legislation. One would provide the most effective tools ever to stem the flow of illegals but would political non-starters: A national ID card. Then law enforcement could demand it from anyone of any race free of accusations of profiling. This would rankle civil libertarians in both parties.
The other, which stands a slim chance of passage, is to penalize severely any business that hires illegals. This approach is sometimes included in “comprehensive” reform proposals.
The hottest potato of them all is what to do with the 11 million illegals already in this country.
Any path to citizenship is called “amnesty,” uttered by most Republicans with venom. The Democrats insist on including some path to citizenship in “comprehensive immigration reform.” It would require payment of penalties, clean police records, learning English and going to the back of the line for citizenship.
No Republican this year dares to advocate any kind of legalization of illegals’ status. John McCain, who once favored such a comprehensive approach, is fighting for his political life in Arizona. George W Bush also supported something similar.
There are a few potential points of bipartisan agreement: secure our borders and create a guest worker program, but the Arizona law has polarized the political atmosphere to such an extreme that nothing is going to happen in Congress until after the midterm.
National polls show the Arizona approach is popular with the majority. However, both parties fear a Hispanic backlash in certain states with large Hispanic registration.
Obama’s attempt to bump immigration to priority on the Senate agenda got scotched by leadership in both parties. Obama is still feeling heat from Hispanics to make good on his promise to deal with immigration reform in his first year. His one way out for now it is to file a suit against the Arizona law, even if it might be a weak case. It will at least keep the issue in the courts until next year. I would be shocked if this is not how the issue plays out.
Visit http://www.mufticforum,com for past columns and blog postings.
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