US immigration bill splits Republicans
US immigration bill splits Republicans
Strategists say that if Republicans are to win presidential elections, which they’ve been losing lately, partly because of dismal support from Hispanic voters, they must soften their rhetoric about illegal immigrants and embrace some version of “immigration reform.”
But granting illegal residents a pathway to citizenship, which critics call “amnesty,” is deeply unpopular in many House Republicans’ districts.
President Barack Obama wants such a pathway. So do some prominent Republican lawmakers who are seeking a way out of their party’s jam.
The plans differ on when and how citizenship might occur, with border security a central issue. Resolving these differences may determine whether a major law is enacted in the coming months.
Some Republican strategists fear they will lose either way.
If by the next election Latino voters think Republicans opposed and possibly blocked a comprehensive immigration overhaul, they might turn against the party in even bigger numbers.
On the other hand, converting millions of illegal Hispanic residents into citizens might produce large numbers of new voters who will lean Democratic for years.
“This is a perilous debate that Republicans have entered into,” John Ullyot, a Republican consultant and a former Senate aide, said.
Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote last November and 67 percent in 2008. Republican campaign professionals say Republicans are dooming themselves if they don’t show a more welcoming face to this fast-growing segment of voters.
“Republicans need to solve this issue, politically, if they wish to win national elections, and they know it,” said Texas-based Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak.
Winning elections to the House of Representatives, however, is a different matter.
A number of Republican lawmakers and aides say “amnesty” for illegal immigrants triggers strong resentment among their constituents. The upcoming debates could stir passions further, even in swing districts.
Rep. Steve Chabot lost his Cincinnati-area seat in Ohio to a Democrat in 2008, then regained it two years later. He opposes giving illegal immigrants an eventual route to citizenship.
“It is unfair to allow those who have willfully and intentionally broken our nation’s immigration laws to, in essence, cut in front of those who have been patiently and legally waiting their turn to become US citizens,” Chabot wrote on his House blog. Republicans should appeal to Hispanic voters “on principle,” he said, not by agreeing to liberal immigration policies. “Republicans are better for Hispanics because our policies are better for them,” Chabot said.
Republican leaders hope to minimize internal conflicts by finding a compromise that Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate will accept.
A bipartisan group of senators has proposed a plan that would allow illegal immigrants to pursue citizenship only after steps, yet to be detailed, are taken to further secure the border with Mexico. The plan is backed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose parents were born in Cuba. He is seen as leading player on immigration.
Some other high-profile conservatives, including Fox News commentator Sean Hannity and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, have spoken favorably about Rubio’s approach.
Democrats insist that the border security prerequisites not be onerous. They worry that Republicans will never agree that border enforcement is strong enough to start the citizenship process for illegals. Similarly, some Republicans say they fear Democrats won’t deliver tougher security once illegal immigrants are allowed the first step toward legal status.
Republican strategists say respectful rhetoric in the coming debates is crucial to wooing Hispanic voters who feel previous Republican comments revealed anti-immigrant feelings.
“If the tone of the debate is thoughtful,” then Republicans can survive politically even if they reject “blanket amnesty,” campaign adviser Terry Nelson said.
Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who heads the Republican Party’s 2014 House campaign efforts, said the party must communicate better with minorities.
“Obviously we’ve got to address this,” he said of immigration changes. “We’ve got 50,000 young Hispanics reaching voter age every month.”
Some conservative pundits, however, say turning illegal immigrants into voting citizens will hurt the Republican Party, not help it.
Latinos “are disproportionately low-income and disproportionately likely to receive some form of government support,” the conservative magazine National Review said in an editorial. “Take away the Spanish surname and Latino voters look a great deal like many other Democratic constituencies.”
House Speaker John Boehner says he’s ready to tackle big changes in immigration laws. But the effort may conflict with another of his goals: passing major legislation only if most House Republicans support it.
House insiders say many, and perhaps most, Republican lawmakers will want to vote against a citizenship-granting immigration bill, even if they quietly hope it passes and helps their party at the presidential level.
Such “vote no, hope yes” groups are well-suited for passing difficult measures with a modest number of Republican votes and many Democratic votes. It happened twice in January: on a hurricane aid bill and a vote to avert the “fiscal cliff” of automatically triggered tax increases and spending cuts.
At a recent House Republican retreat in Virginia, Boehner brought in independent political analyst Charlie Cook to explain to lawmakers why they face serious trouble with Hispanic voters.
Cook said House Republicans make a mistake if they view national issues such as immigration “through the prism of your district,” said a participant at the private session. Republicans eventually can improve their standing with Latinos if they stop talking and acting as though they don’t like immigrants, Cook told the House members.
“Holes tend to fill in over time if people stop digging,” Cook was quoted as telling the lawmakers.
Pakistan welcomes, but India rejects Chinese envoy’s call for ‘peace talks’
- Islamabad is willing to talk to India 'bilaterally, trilaterally, or multilaterally — the important thing is dialogue,' says Mushahid Hussain
- India is wary because of Pakistan's 'close strategic alliance' with China, says Ashok Behuria
NEW DELHI, ISLAMABAD: The Indian government has rejected a Chinese call for a trilateral meeting to help resolve tensions between India and Pakistan, saying that the relationship between the nuclear rivals was “purely bilateral.”
On Monday, China’s ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, urged India and Pakistan to meet with China on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Eurasian political, economic and security forum with eight countries, including India and Pakistan, as members.
The envoy made his remarks in a speech at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on the theme “Beyond Wuhan: How far and fast can China-India relations go?”
“If China, Russia and Mongolia can have a trilateral summit, then why not India, China and Pakistan?” Luo asked.
India’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Raveesh Kumar, said on Tuesday that the ministry had seen reports of the Chinese envoy’s comments, but had not received any official offer from the Chinese government.
“We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the ambassador,” he said. “Matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for the involvement of any third country.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry also said on Tuesday that China had not officially communicated the offer to Islamabad.
Dr. Mohammed Faisal, a Foreign Office spokesman, told Arab News the ministry was unaware of the Chinese gesture. He declined to comment further.
The Chinese envoy’s remarks reflect growing fears in Beijing that rivalry between India and Pakistan could threaten its One Belt One Road development strategy to connect Eurasian countries through a trillion-dollar trade corridor.
Since 1947 India has been involved in four wars and countless border skirmishes with Pakistan, and the two continue to wrestle for dominance in the subcontinent. China is also a political and military ally of Islamabad.
Apart from its distrust of Pakistan, India is also deeply wary of China.
Last June the two countries were locked in a face-off on the Doklam plateau at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China, an area disputed by China and Bhutan.
Ashok Behuria, the coordinator of the South Asia Center at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, described the Chinese envoy’s idea as a “non-starter.”
“India officially will never consider it,” Behuria said.
“India opposes any suggestion of mediation with Pakistan, so that will always stand in the way of a tripartite meet. And because of the close strategic alliance between Pakistan and China, India will be doubly wary of such a suggestion.”
Lt. Gen. (Retd) S.L. Narasimhan, a China expert, dismissed the Chinese offer, saying India would not welcome third-party intervention.
“China seems to be trying to get into the role of mediation— this is not the first issue it has offered to mediate,” he said.
“If someone is trying to mediate on your behalf, he attains a position where he can adjudicate and increase his influence,” Narasimhan said. “That is what China seems to be trying here.”
However, Luo’s comments were welcomed by Mushahid Hussain Sayed, chairman of Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Committee and head of the Pakistan-China Institute.
“The proposal has been made by a senior diplomat who has served in Pakistan and comes in the context of some major developments,” Sayed told Arab News.
“One is the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan, where they held a six-hour talk. The second is the discussion between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. The third is the sudden strengthening of the Afghan peace process in which again China is the factor.
“China is keen because it has launched what is probably the most important diplomatic and development initiative of the 21st century — Xi’s ‘belt and road’ strategy,” he said.
“Beijing feels there should be an environment of peace, security and stability in Asia to provide the context for operations and connectivity sought under the belt and road initiative.”
Sayed said Pakistan is willing to talk to India “bilaterally, trilaterally, or multilaterally — the important thing is dialogue.”
“If North Korea and America can have a dialogue over Korean issues, why not Pakistan and India over Kashmir and other bilateral issues that affect our relations?“
Analysts say India is unlikely to agree to talks with Islamabad before Pakistan’s elections in July. New Delhi is relying on informal communication channels, though with Indian elections due in 2019 it is unclear if the Modi administration would change its position on a resumption of dialogue.
Sayed said China has immense trade leverage over India, with New Delhi “feeling isolated from the general trend in the region.”
“India is feeling the pressure, diplomatically and otherwise,” he said.
“There is a difference between Indian policy and its posturing, and sooner or later it will have to come to the conference table to start talking to Pakistan rather than talking at Pakistan,” he said.