Consequences of Immigration Reform for the American Political Parties

By Balkaran, Stephen | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, October 20, 2014 | Go to article overview

Consequences of Immigration Reform for the American Political Parties


Balkaran, Stephen, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


The political debacle of the current immigration debate has left the United States of America divided along racial, ethnic and political lines, never seen before in our great country. Not only has the debate gone beyond the boundaries of our political spectrum, it has left the American people and its political parties scrambling to maintain a sense of what true democracy can and cannot be. Discussions on the current immigration crisis have disregarded the fact that we are a "land of immigrants." As America delves into the murky depths of the immigration debate, it has ignored who we are as Americans as well as the "browning of America."

Immigration has always been the basic DNA of America and it has taken away the best of who we are and what we can become as a nation. Immigration reform has more implications for America's future than many of us can foresee; not only socially, culturally and economically, but Hispanic political presence is already shaping and defining a new America.

The comprehensive immigration reform policies are directly related to the future of America, both to the American people as to who we are and what we stand for, but more so to the political parties as they try to court America's greatest asset - the Hispanic vote. The immigration debate has now generated so many divisions in our society that it has become the "civil rights debate of 21st century." Never in American history has immigration been such a decisive issue where policymaking and the electoral process go hand-in-hand.

As both political parties implement their political agendas, they are facing an increasingly tough decision whether or not to support the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill. The decision will ultimately lead to a backlash from their own constituents and impede efforts to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in America. This decision will ultimately define the future of the political landscape in America. The political importance of the Hispanic vote is closely tied to Immigration reform and, whether or not we admit it, the American Presidency will be dictated by the Hispanic vote. This vote, which can be uti- lized by both political parties, will now define the American political process and who - or which party - controls the future political structure of America.

The growth of the Hispanic electorate is an important factor in the increasing number of congressional races across the country. Both our political parties have redefined their political agenda to cater to the Hispanics' ever-growing presence. Politically their votes remain hugely important for both Democratic and Republican campaigns. Both the Democrats and Republicans have agreed that the Hispanic immigration agenda must be dealt in a very sensitive but cautious way because Hispanic votes will define America's political landscape.

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-.S.C., "If we don't pass immigration reform, if we don't get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016. We 're in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. " The Democratic Party argues, "Hispanics are a swing vote; they are no longer a base vote of our party. Though we can all agree that it is the democratic agenda that will help Hispanics live a better life, we need to tell them in a compelling way. When we speak to them we can move them our way; they can break the Republican Party."

The Republican Party acknowledges, "given the size, growth rate and the distribution of Hispanics, it is safe to say that if we do not respect their voting power, they can change the future of elections."

In fact, according to Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, "The road to the White House runs right through the Hispanic community, and you will not see a Republican become president without it. …

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