Immigration Reform Repeats the Mistakes of Obamacare
Another Massive Program Without Public Support
Congress is about to make the same mistake with immigration reform that it did with Obamacare: Pass a massive program that lacks support among the voters.
Not so with Obamacare. Democrats ignored public opinion throughout the healthcare debate in 2009 and passed the law on party line votes in early 2010. They paid the price in November 2010 when they lost the House of Representatives, upsetting President Obama’s one party rule.
The pollster Scott Rasmussen shows that Congress is about to do it again. His recent polling on immigration reform revealed that while support for immigration reform has fallen slightly, more voters than ever question the willingness of the federal government to control the borders.
Rasmussen says that 55 percent of likely U.S. voters still favor reform that would provide legal status to those here illegally who have otherwise obeyed the law. But, he says, voters show that level of support as long as the government really secures the border to prevent future illegal immigration.
This is the major flaw in so-called comprehensive immigration reform and the greatest threat to the reform bill created by the Gang of Eight in the Senate.
Without ironclad assurances of border security, support for the Senate bill will collapse. The bill may stumble to victory in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but the Republican House will reject it out of hand if it lacks tough border provisions.
A Rasmussen poll in March left no doubt regarding voter opinion concerning immigration reform and border security, finding that 64 percent of immigration reform supporters put border control first.
“Most voters like finding a way for illegal immigrants to stay in this country, but not until the border is secure,” Rasmussen reported. “However, they remain skeptical about the federal government’s interest in securing the border.”
Voters have every reason to be skeptical about the border security provisions of the Senate bill. It calls for 100 percent surveillance and 90 percent “operational control” of the border. But these goals are dependent on the Obama administration’s willingness to crack down on border security.
Immigration reform skeptics in Congress are quick to remind their colleagues and voters that we have seen a script before. When immigration reform in 1986 granted amnesty to 3 million illegals, it was accompanied by a pledge to secure the border. It never happened.
Democrats are in a full-scale panic over the fallout from Obamacare in the midterm elections next year. The administration is scrambling to get the massive healthcare program up and running by January 1, at the same time working to reassure anxious Democrats that all will be well by November 2014.
As the nation moves closer to full implementation of Obamacare, public support remains dismal. Rasmussen reported this week that 55 percent have an unfavorable opinion of it, with 40 percent expressing a very unfavorable opinion. Only 39 percent view Obamacare somewhat favorably.
Congress still has the chance to avoid repeating the Obamacare mistake with immigration reform. The best formula for success would be legislation that shows the government is serious about border security. Then Congress could move on to the challenge of granting legal status to the 11 million illegals already in the country.
The voters are smarter than the masterminds in Congress. They won’t stand for being ignored. It didn’t work with Obamacare; it won’t work with immigration reform.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.