Why Hillary Loves Immigration Reform

Immigration shock and awe.

Advocates stunned. Press flabbergasted. Competitors fulminating.

Meanwhile, the immigrant community is, “Meh… Let’s see where this goes.”

Last night in Nevada, Hillary Clinton pretty much endorsed the entire immigrant rights public policy platform. Good for her.

However, don’t believe Clinton is to the left of the Democratic Party. As the good people at America’s Voice pointed out, “Hillary Clinton’s embrace of a full pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is the consensus Democratic position.”

And, by the way, after billions of dollars raised by candidates in both parties, we all know this presidential rodeo will come down to a handful of states where Latino and Asian voters will determine the outcome.

Funny how political power wielded by new voters inspires courage.

But this is only half the story.

The cruel lessons of history point to many an example of Democrats taking less than helpful positions on immigration. (Including a certain President Clinton.)

Candidate Clinton, and Democrats in general, are moving to stronger immigration positions because conservative voters are driving Republicans to a more constructive position. Conservative leaders in conservative communities are urging progress on immigration reform; therefore, the playing field is shifting.

Upon analyzing state by state data, the Public Religion Research Institute found, “Overall, a majority (55 percent) of Americans say immigrants today strengthen our country through their hard work and talents.”

And, at the end of last year, “The Beyond the Beltway Insights Initiative poll found 69 percent of voters favored Congress tackling legislation dealing with immigration.”

This was just after President Obama’s executive actions deeply polarized the environment — arguably a much tougher environment than what we face now.

All of which, spoiler alert, is a pretty solid definition of, “a broad American consensus.”

The fact is that whoever secures the GOP nomination for president is going to set a surprisingly high bar on the issue of immigration reform. Because, while Jeff Sessions may be the new Kris Kobach, serious candidates know they have to answer the question: what about the 11 million?

Hillary knows Republicans are going to compete for Hispanic voters in those same states. And, the real contenders also knows conservative and liberal voters alike want a compassionate and pragmatic approach to the issue.

So, whether it is Bush, Clinton, Rubio or any other serious candidate for president, the debate is being driven by the constituencies on the left and the right — towards real solutions not empty talking points.

Kind of wish Congress would catch up.

Originally published at ali-noorani.com on May 6, 2015.

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum and America is Better, author of There Goes the Neighborhood, host of the podcast, Only in America.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store