Meanwhile the DREAM act failed to advance in the Senate. Immigration activists complain that Obama stepped up deportations and got nothing in return from Republicans, legislatively. And they’re right.
I’m not sure, though, that it ever would have been possible to get Republicans to vote for it so I don’t blame Obama for not getting it through. I do blame the White House for thinking that stepping up deportations would get the Republicans to come on board with the DREAM act.
Republicans, meanwhile, have discovered that they can talk tough on immigration and still appeal to Latino voters by picking conservative Hispanic candidates. That produced three significant Republican victories in 2010: Marco Rubio captured a Senate seat in Florida and Susana Martinez won a gubernatorial race in New Mexico, as did Brian Sandoval in Nevada. Rubio is already being mentioned by some as a vice presidential pick.
Florida Latinos are very atypical, since there are so many Cuban voters. Sandoval and Martinez didn’t do very well with Latino voters (Sandoval got about 33%, exact figures aren’t available for Martinez, but are believed to be similar).
I support immigration reform because it’s insane and unjust to have millions of people in this country who work their asses off only to get treated as second-class citizens (the same way I support gay marriage and DADT repeal). But it’s also a potent issue for Democrats and they need to keep pushing at it, the same way they did with DADT.
Immigration issues are a winner for Democrats. I think gay issues are, too, at this point. There’s a dwindling pool of homophobes in the country and, as everyone I know in New York State politics can tell you and a lot of advertisers of high-end products can tell you too, there’s a lot of money in the gay community that you’d be stupid to leave on the table.
I don’t buy into the idea that if Obama got all Howard Zinn on everyone’s ass in general, the country would rally around him, but on a lot of the classic Republican issues that pit “Us” (white, God-fearing Christians) against “Them” (everyone else), I’d rather be us than them, which means pushing hard for Them, of course.