Wanted: A Few Good Republicans

by Published on

President Obama laid it out on the table today during his White House press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon: no Republican supporters no comprehensive immigration reform.

“There’s a political challenge… I’m confident we can get a majority of Democrats to support it, but we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate,” he said. “We need some support from Republicans.”

Obama said they hope to recreate the atmosphere in 2007 when Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy forged a bipartisan effort.

“If we can recreate that atmosphere…I don’t expect we’ll get every Republican vote but we need some. The American people, including Arizona prefer the federal government does the job.”

Here’s the irony (or rather the agony): We have Republicans and red states like Arizona complaining bitterly about the federal government not doing its job to secure the border. But Republicans won’t get behind comprehensive immigration reform, which would make it 100 times easier to secure the border. Border Patrol and law enforcement could focus on fighting drug smugglers instead of detaining people who are here just looking for work.

Read between the lines, and what Obama is telling us is the prognosis for comprehensive immigration reform this year does not look good. Not with the current of fear running through every incumbent candidate up for reelection. Just look at Republican Senator John  (Complete that Danged Fence!) McCain – now a shell of his former self.  He’s gone all right-wing robot on us in a desperate effort to cling to his Senate seat. (Check out this hilarious Star Wars spoof of his new campaign ad on the fence.)

The lone Republican willing to work on reform — South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham has also bowed out of the effort. So where does that lead us? Paralysis-ville, folks. My fear is that this will lead to more racial-profiling legislation like Arizona’s in other states, which means the nasty racial rhetoric and the immigrant bashing is only going to get worse.

Unless…a few good Republicans are ready to step up and do what’s right.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.