SPOTLIGHT

The House Immigration Vote and 2016

Mark Udall during a Q&A session on April 20, 2010.
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
July 31, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

House Re­pub­lic­ans are ex­pec­ted to vote Thursday on a bill to pre­vent Pres­id­ent Obama from stop­ping more un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rant de­port­a­tions by ex­ec­ut­ive or­der, as he’s ex­pec­ted to do soon. It may not end up be­ing a big deal in the 2014 elec­tions. But one state il­lu­min­ates a loom­ing fu­ture is­sue for the GOP.

— As the GOP bashes Obama’s im­mig­ra­tion policies and sev­er­al red-state Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors ask him to be cau­tious about fur­ther ac­tion, one battle­ground Demo­crat has gone the oth­er way. Sen. Mark Ud­all (D-CO) an­nounced on a Latino Den­ver ra­dio sta­tion in June that he wanted Obama to push for­ward with ex­ec­ut­ive im­mig­ra­tion ac­tion if the House wouldn’t act on im­mig­ra­tion re­form.

— In the spring of 2013, days after Rep. Cory Gard­ner (R-CO) ini­tially de­cided not to run for Sen­ate, Gard­ner joined most of his party in sup­port­ing an amend­ment to undo Obama’s 2012 “de­ferred ac­tion” DREAM Act-like or­der. Between then and now, though, Gard­ner made a move from a safely Re­pub­lic­an dis­trict to a purple state-wide run, and Ud­all, Demo­crats, and im­mig­ra­tion act­iv­ists have been fiercely crit­ic­al of him on im­mig­ra­tion, of­ten cit­ing that old vote.

— By run­ning for the Sen­ate in­stead of the House, Gard­ner’s en­vir­on­ment has changed in the same way that the coun­try’s will from 2014 to 2016. This elec­tion is fo­cused in areas of the coun­try that are far less di­verse than av­er­age and that Mitt Rom­ney won in 2012, from the Sen­ate battle­ground to a ma­jor­ity of the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. That doesn’t min­im­ize Demo­crats’ li­ab­il­it­ies this year. But it does raise the ques­tion, again, of how Re­pub­lic­an strategies in the demo­graph­ic­ally shiel­ded en­virons of 2014 will af­fect the party’s pres­id­en­tial pro­spects in 2014. The House vote on pre­vent­ing fur­ther im­mig­ra­tion ac­tion by Obama won’t pre­vent him from tak­ing ac­tion, thanks to Sen­ate Demo­crats (just like the 2013 amend­ment), but it will in­crease pres­sure on 2016 Re­pub­lic­ans to join in after Obama does make his move on im­mig­ra­tion — be­fore a pres­id­en­tial elec­tion when Re­pub­lic­ans have ac­know­ledged their need to in­crease the party’s share of Latino votes.

The House im­mig­ra­tion vote Thursday may only af­fect a few races in 2014. But it’s easy to see how it could give Re­pub­lic­ans trouble on a dif­fer­ent play­ing field in 2016.
— Scott Bland

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