Effect of Midterm Election

Posted on December 25, 2006 by Warren Wen | Category: Immigration

Will the Result of Mid-term Election Bring Good News to Immigrants?

In the past few weeks, the discussion about immigration reform has not been as hot as before because the public and the media attention have focused on the mid-term election. At this time, it seems impossible for any immigration reform bill to pass before the end of this year.  None of the readers of our column would be surprised by this because this is pretty much in line with the analysis we put out in our previous articles.  Now, the mid-term election is over and the Democrats take control of the Congress, what is going to happen to the immigration reform upon which a lot of immigrants have a high expectation?

In previous articles, we mentioned that for the short term election considerations, a lot of conservative Republicans hold an anti-immigration position in hoping that this would boost their chances of being reelected.  At that time, no one could be sure about whether this would help the Republicans with their election bids, however, it is certain that the positions the conservative Republicans took would have a long term negative impact upon the Republicans in their fight for the Latino votes.

From the mid-term election result, it is pretty clear that the anti-immigrants position taken by the Republicans did not help them in the election at all.  In the House races, a lot of hard-line Republicans have lost their seats.   In Senate race, it seems that there has been no clear advantage for the Republicans who hold the anti-immigration position. Furthermore, in a recent Newsweek poll, the voters have listed the immigration a distant fifth on their list of concerns – after Iraq, terrorism, the economy and health care. Thus, the strategy of the anti-immigration took by a lot of Republicans seems to have failed.

Now since the Democrats have control of both the House and Senate, what is going to happen to the immigration reform?

Contrary to a lot of immigrants’ expectation, a Congress controlled by the Democrats does not necessarily make any immigration reform more likely.  On one hand, not all of the newly elected Democrats support the immigration reform. As a matter of fact, some of them are very conservative on this point. On the other hand, as indicated by the Newsweek poll, the immigration issue is only numbered fifth on the voters’ concern list. Due to lack of concerns the majority publics have on the immigration reform, the Democrats in the Congress may not have much incentive and interests in putting the immigration reform on their agenda for next year.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that the immigration reform will not have any chances to pass by the Congress which is now controlled by the Democrats.  In fact, all the parties and the interest groups that have pushed for the immigration reform in the past are still pushing forward.  Moreover, many hard-liners who hold an anti-immigration position have lost their seats, and this is most obvious in the House.  This has greatly weakened the anti-immigration force in the Congress.

Secondly, for President Bush, with the presidential legacy in his mind, the immigration reform is the only issue he may get some achievements in his second term. Furthermore, it is one of rare issues which George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Rudy Giuliani all agree upon.  As a result, President Bush may choose to use his influence to push for the immigration reform next year.

Thirdly, Hispanics’ enthusiasm and influence on the U.S. politics has been steadily grown.  Because of their close relationship with illegal immigrants, they may take further efforts in pushing for the immigration reform.  Regarding this, we are beginning to see some reports already.

In closing, the immigration reform may have a better chance in the Congress controlled by the Democrats.  Whether it will come through or not would depend on a lot of complicated factors.  We will keep you updated.

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