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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Columnist Says Republicans Shouldn't Tank Immigration Reform

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Aaron Rodriguez says the GOP is at a crucial crossroads with regards to the immigration issue.

Our immigration system is broken.  Drug trafficking comes through our porous border.  The backlog on visas, green cards, and citizenship is a processing nightmare that incentivizes more illegal immigration. There is a unique category of unauthorized immigrants called "dreamers" presenting its own problems with moral, legal, and political dimensions.   
Recently, the U.S. Senate passed a mammoth immigration bill that put House Republicans in the hot seat. They could either scrap the Senate’s immigration bill, or they could cull out the more desirable parts and conference the bill. Conservatives seem to be torn over the dilemma. Clearly, there is an impetus for immigration reform, but the more stringent wing of the Republican Party is bristling in opposition.    
For Democrats, immigration reform is a far simpler choice. A pathway to citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants will likely expand their pool of Democratic voters. Republicans, however, have a political tightrope to walk with Hispanic voters pulling on one side and constituents in safe congressional districts on the other. 
In 2004, Hispanics made up 6% of the nation’s electorate; in 2008, it climbed to 7.4%.  In 2012, the Hispanic share of the national electorate increased to 8.4%.  If Hispanic support for Republicans continue to drop while their share of the national electorate continues to grow, in a decade or so, swing states may stop swinging GOP.  Republican leadership appears to be showing signs of stress.  
In most cases, incremental change is ideal. Burkean conservatism has served our country well; unfortunately, the impetus for immigration reform is strong simply because we’ve neglected it for too long. 
If Republicans kill the bipartisan effort, it will jeopardize Hispanic votes in years to come.  

Read the entire piece, here.

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