Campaigns Influence Immigration Decisions
Immigration reform has become an issue that is clearly tied to electoral politics for the Republican Party. Though Speaker John Boehner has insisted recently that immigration reform is not dead, the House is about to finish the year without progress on a topic that is a priority to Latino voters, an electorate the GOP desperately needs to woo before the next presidential race.
In fact, the House’s most visible immigration-related action was a measure to defund an Obama administration program to defer deportations of young immigrants, a vote that increased Latino animosity even though it failed to become law.
The inaction from House Republicans shows that their promises of immigration reform during the last election cycle were not legitimate. During campaigns, candidates often claim they will be delegates of the people if elected in order to increase their appeal to the electorate. In reality, these legislators act as trustees as much as possible without causing a backlash in the next election cycle. This is exactly what is happening with the current Congress: they promised to pass immigration reform in order to sway the Hispanic vote in the last elections, but after they were elected no action has been taken.
As Republicans prepare for far-right challengers in the 2014 mid-term elections, they will have to continue to oppose immigration reform. Although this will help them in the short term, the GOP may suffer in the 2016 elections if they contest immigration reform too strongly in their upcoming campaigns.