Immigration Reform 2013 Could Be Poisoned By the Debt Ceiling Fight


The current political climate seems to be stuck in cycle of non-production that revolves around two issues: Obamacare and the debt ceiling. The current cycle has us on the brink of the unknown, with the government shutdown due to a fight over Obamacare and another debt ceiling deadline quickly approaching. In the past, they have been able to kick the can down the road to avoid two major issues at once, though this time it appears they have failed with no compromise or deal in the works.

The result of this government debacle besides the obvious ones, are that other pieces of important legislation are being held up. One of these is comprehensive immigration reform which last month the Washington Post pointed out was not dead but was on life support. Earlier this year there seemed to be a lot of momentum on the heels of another set of campaign promises from President Obama who even released his plan for reform. Despite the need for and public demand for immigration reform, the current government stalemate will continue to push immigration reform to the back burner until election season begins and the push for the Hispanic vote resumes.

On Tuesday October 8, thousands of demonstrators filled the National Mall to call for immigration reform. There were some promising signs that came from this rally as several House Republicans were also at the rally to call for a bipartisan approach to reform. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) believes that these talks can be less contentious than the current debates and reform could be a driving force to reducing the deficit. While these Republicans were not amongst the number of lawmakers arrested, their presence shows a more willing spirit to work together on an issue than what currently exists on other issues where hard lines are drawn.

The rally also continues to show the public support for immigration reform to happen. Over 100 people were willing to be arrested to make their point that immigration reform needs to be on the forefront and not the back burner. Among those arrested was a friend and former colleague, Hector Vaca, who was part of a group of folks from North Carolina who made the trek to Washington, D.C., to participate in the rally.

In his own statement about his arrest on his organizations blog, Hector ties the importance of the rally to the fact that immigration reform is being pushed to the side over debates on health care and fiscal policy that have led to the shutdown and the looming debt ceiling fight.

Once we get through the current stalemate, we could see a renewed effort to get immigration reform passed. One of those reasons is that we will be in full-fledged campaign season for the 2014 mid-term elections. In an attempt to get votes the topic of immigration reform will definitely be at play.

As fellow PolicyMic pundit, Sara Sollers pointed out, this could be a way for the GOP to save face after the shutdown as their disapproval rate has increased from 63% to 70% in the days since the shutdown began. If this is the approach that is taken, we could see an increase in rallies and civil disobedience by immigrant groups and their supporters who grow weary of immigration reform consistently being dangled during campaign season as a means to get votes, with no action ever following post elections.

There is a recognized need for immigration reform from both parties and from voters. However, despite that need and public demand, the current government stalemate will continue to push immigration reform to the back burner until election season begins and the push for the Hispanic vote resumes.