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July 14, 2013

CEPEDA: The immigration-reform pickle

Former President George W. Bush recently said that “the reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster” a political party but “to fix a system that’s broken. Good policy yields good politics.”

It’s too bad that loathed-by-the-left Bush said it and not Bill Clinton. The ultra-influential Clinton could probably make a difference in the lead-up to the House of Representatives’ deliberations on immigration by reminding Democrats to try to compromise on their demands for reform rather than focusing on celebrating a Republican defeat they hope will doom the whole GOP.

Both parties need to stop calculating what a win or loss will mean to their prospects for the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential election. They’d better start figuring out how to not let immigration become the next big item on a long list of legislative failures that convince Americans their government is incapable of getting anything done.

But this would require the kind of down-to-earth thinking that neither side appears prepared to engage in. And while President Obama has spent months insisting no one will get all they want, it’s hard to imagine either side compromising much.

From the beginning, everyone involved has known that one of the top points of contention in the House would be the path to citizenship — primarily because conservative Republicans don’t want it and secondarily because of the ridiculous assumptions made about citizenship and future Latino voting potential.

Conventional wisdom posits that the GOP needs to pass a reform that includes citizenship in order to stand even a slim chance of attracting future Hispanic voters. And the Democrats want the same so they can cash in on perceived automatic support for their efforts from grateful Latino voters.

Never mind that none of those assertions can actually be counted on. Worse, they completely ignore public opinion when it comes to the question of whether a comprehensive reform should be limited to legal residency or go so far as to offer citizenship.

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