There is a quiet battle underway within the Republican Party that may soon break out into the open — and it will heavily impact whether the GOP can continue as a national political party in the decades ahead.
The conflict is over how the Party will position itself with respect to the question of immigration reform — and just as importantly — the fastest-growing demographic group in country: Hispanic Americans.
President Obama has made it clear that he is intent on fixing the broken immigration system by passing immigration reform. He would do it with a package that combines smart and effective border enforcement with a crackdown on illegal hiring and unfair labor practices, and by modernizing the legal immigration system and requiring those who are undocumented to register with the government, pass background checks, study English, pay taxes, and get in line to work towards citizenship.
That would make sure that those who are here, are in the system legally; that all workers and employers are paying their fair share of taxes; and that those immigrants who come in the future do so legally.
But, more than with most any other issue, passing immigration reform requires bipartisan support — both as a question of legislative math and politics.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been deputized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) — himself a strong advocate of reform — to be point man on this issue for the Democratic Majority. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has worked with Schumer for months to hammer out the specifics of a bi-partisan bill.
Most of the substantive issues appear to be close to resolution. The major outstanding problem is entirely political: will other Republicans be willing to join Graham and provide support for a truly bi-partisan effort?
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