Immigration Reform Battles in 2013 Will Make the Fiscal Cliff Debate Seem Tame

About a month ago, Bloomberg's Businessweek published an interesting article about how the Obama Administration’s next policy pivot will shift towards proposing comprehensive immigration reform. I find this to be an intriguing article and I generally agree with its premise. However, the article outlined that the Obama administration will focus on immigration for economic reasons (certainly makes sense given the article was published by Bloomberg), but I am predicting, given the costs and benefits of such a move, the Obama Administration will take a stand on the issue for political reasons.

Latinos are the fastest growing voting population in the United States and both parties know that. President Obama enjoyed an almost 3-1 margin over his Republican opponent Mitt Romney in the previous election and there is no reason why the Democrats will want to take that for granted. The DREAM Act, although a failure in the Senate, became a huge win for the Democrats as it made the Democrats appear as though they are actively trying to do something for the estimated over 11 million illegal immigrants. No doubt, their legal friends and family took notice and voted accordingly.

Shortly after his re-election, Obama made a sweeping announcement that immigration reform will become one of his hallmark goals for the second term. This was perhaps a response to charges that he largely ignored the issue in his first term. Last election, the Democrats improved their numbers in both chambers of Congress and will probably bank on enough Republicans from western states realizing the growing power of the demographic to go along with whatever initiative the Democrats propose.

Perhaps no other issue divides the GOP like immigration reform. It wasn’t long ago that the only immigration reform issue the Republicans could seem to agree on was build higher and better walls on the border. Remember, President Bush’s e-verify proposal was shot down in Congress not by Nancy Pelosi and friends but by his own party who perceived the Republican-created initiatives as too soft on illegal migrant workers. But the GOP has powerful new voices to spearhead the GOP’s expected response to the Obama Administration’s proposals. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a rising star in the Republican Party, has already taken the initiative and proposed an immigration reform plan of his own. Newly-inaugurated Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has just been appointed to the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, where he is expected to take a leading role in crafting a bill on immigration reform if/when it is proposed.  

With the stage set and the actors in place, expect 2013 to be year dominated by a political debate over immigration reform. Hopefully there will be less drama over this issue than there was over healthcare reform a few years ago, but knowing the current climate of American climates, expect this impending battle to be an epic rumble in the district.