Why immigration is a political landmine for the GOP
Changing sentiment toward illegal aliens is making GOP opposition to immigration reform even more difficult politically.
It isn't just Hispanics who care about immigration reform. Most Americans want to see some kind of reform also. A new CBS poll sheds some light on the dilemma for Republicans.
Fifty-one percent think illegal immigrants should be able to remain in the country and apply for citizenship, while an additional 20 percent think they should stay as guest workers. Twenty-four percent say they should have to leave the country, according to a CBS News poll released Monday night.
The latest survey shows an eight percentage point shift from the 43 percent of Americans who thought illegal immigrants should be able to stay and apply for citizenship in March 2010; 21 percent thought they should stay as guest workers while 32 percent thought they should have to leave at that time.
But along party lines, the response today is widely partisan. Only 35 percent of Republicans think illegal immigrants should be able to stay and apply for citizenship, compared with 66 percent of Democrats, according to the CBS poll. Twenty-five percent of Republicans think they should stay as guest workers, compared with 17 percent of Dems.
And while only 13 percent of Dems think illegal immigrants should have to leave the country - 36 percent of Republicans think they should have to go.
This isn't just a question of idle speculation. The future of the Republican party is at stake. Democrats will not get their way on amnesty, but the "path to citizenship" - how that shakes out in Congress - will be vital to the question of the Hispanic's growing role in national politics and where their allegiances will lie.
There are many on the right who wish to ignore the political implications of a vote on immigration reform. The Republicans simply can't afford to do that which is why the issue is so fraught with danger for the party. Whether the danger is from within or without, a wrong move will weaken Republicans going into the 2014 mid terms.