The introduction of the comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate has spurred many conservative radio talk show hosts to agitate the American public to denounce the bill. They particularly harp on the proposed pathway to citizenship as “pure amnesty” and “nothing more than a reward” for illegal immigrants for breaking the law.
These talk show hosts also campaigned to help defeat the passage of a similar bill introduced during the Bush administration. The opposition was so intense in 2007 that the Senate immigration bill suffered a crushing defeat.
This time, however, the political atmosphere has changed and the strong opposition is no longer there. In fact, Sean Hannity who was one of the conservative talk show hosts who fiercely campaigned against immigration reform has changed his position along with some other conservatives. Republican opposition has also diminished as a result of the 2012 presidential elections.
The sentiment of the American public has also shifted, according to Michael Medved, another conservative radio talk show host who has always supported immigration reform. Based on a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 76% of Americans are for the creation of a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented in the country.
While conservative radio talk show hosts has campaigned against the bill, evangelical Christians also launched their own drive to support immigration reform. It is interesting to note that most of them were also opposed to the immigration reform efforts in 2007.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a number of Republican members of Congress are eyeing to delay the process and proposing “poison pill” amendments to defeat the bill. Senator Charles Grassley even tried at the first Judiciary Committee hearing to link the Boston Marathon bombings to the immigration debate.
But Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as House Speaker John Boehner and Representative Paul Ryan were quick to point out that the bombings should not slow down the bill. Rep. Paul Ryan said that, “If anything, what we see in Boston is that we have to fix and modernize our immigration system for lots of reasons.”
A number of Senate members have already joined forces to make sure the core provisions of the bill will remain unchanged. The Judiciary Committee expects to open the bill for amendments in early May.
Although most Republicans remain opposed to and are even seen to derail the passage of the bill when it reaches the House, a growing number of GOP members can no longer deny the need for immigration reform. One major group is comprised of Republican House members whose districts heavily rely on agriculture. They support the bill as it provides a workable guest worker program which addresses their chronic problem of worker shortages. Data shows that 17 of the top 20 farm districts are represented by Republicans.
Also, the bipartisan group of House members who themselves have been working on their own version of an immigration reform bill applauded the ‘Gang of Eight’ for its progress. They have also committed to continue on working on their version and are willing to reach a compromise.
If the bipartisan efforts of these members of Congress, both Senate and House, are any indication of the fate of the immigration reform bill, not to mention the growing support from the American public, a comprehensive immigration reform law may very well be in place before the year ends.