At The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty and David Nakamura write:
Until now, the politics of immigration have been seen as a no-lose proposition for President Obama and the Democrats. If they could get a comprehensive overhaul passed, they would win. And if Republicans blocked it, the GOP would further alienate crucial Hispanic and moderate voters.At The Hill, Alexander Bolton concurs:
But with the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October, that calculus may be shifting.
Republicans and even some Democrats have accused Obama of being insufficiently engaged in a calamity that many say he should have seen coming.
And the president’s own party is deeply divided over what must be done now — particularly on the sensitive question of deporting children who have traveled thousands of miles and turned themselves in to U.S. authorities to escape from the desperate situations they faced in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Immigration reform has fizzled as an issue for Democrats, who are barely mentioning it on the campaign trail despite making the issue their top domestic priority in 2013 and 2014.
Latino voters, who are the most energized about overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, will have little impact on the battle for control of the Senate, with the possible exception of Sen. Mark Udall’s (D) race in Colorado.
White working-class voters will play a more important role in the midterm election compared to the 2012 presidential election. They are not energized by immigration reform. Instead, they are concerned about downward pressure on wages, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has linked to higher immigration levels.
Mike McSherry, a Republican strategist who formerly served as deputy political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the mass migration of unaccompanied minors across the Texas border bolsters undermines the Democratic argument for comprehensive reform.
He said the growing crisis bolsters the argument made by many Republicans that border security should take priority over a creating a path to citizenship, a key element of the Senate bill.
“It’s easier for Republicans now because they can say we want to secure the border first,” he said.
Many Senate Republicans voted against comprehensive immigration reform legislation because they said it did not guarantee total border security before granting legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
House Republicans now say they will not act on the issue because they cannot trust the president to enforce the law.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano claimed last year that the Southern border was secure. But that assertion has now come into question amidst a migratory surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America.