As I recently learned, grassroots Republican activists are very angry with the Senate passage of the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill.
Much of the problem seems to lie on two key aspects of the reform. First, the Senate plan would give amnesty to 11 million lawbreakers without providing due justice. Secondly, the Senate plan does not provide for the securing of our southern border. Marco Rubio has taken the brunt of much of the Tea Party angst thus far, but 13 other Republicans should also gird themselves for a battle because the bill passed with their support as well.
The question is, how will the tea party activists make themselves felt? Will they pour their resources into making sure that Democrats who voted for the bill are defeated, or will they focus their efforts on paying retribution to the Republicans who supported the bill? Adding to the difficulties in responding to the passing of the bill has been the recent support of other prominent Republicans as well. President George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and most recently Scott Walker have all come out in favor of some form of amnesty in immigration reform.
Fueling the tea party’s anger with the illegal immigration debate, is a recent study showing that much of the job gains in our nation since 2000 have gone to immigrants (both legal and illegal). While most economists will tell you that in times of economic prosperity a nation “needs” robust immigration to ensure the needed workers in certain industries, we have not seen economic prosperity since the middle of the Bush administration. So the current crush of immigrants has not helped economic matters, but has indeed caused some very lean years to be even worse.
The House is about to begin debating the Senate’s immigration bill, and it’s likely the debate will get hot and heavy. There are quite a few Republicans already on board with what the Senate has passed and of course, the Democrats are monolithic on the issue. The only hope to stop the bill is to make sure that Republican congressmen do not fold the way the weak willed 14 Republican Senators did.
The Tea Party already has the recipe for success – if the House debate on the measure drags into the August recess (which it likely will considering the size, scope, and importance of the bill), then tea party groups all over the country will be waiting at home to make sure their representatives know exactly what the tea party thinks should happen. In 2009, tea party groups from around the nation showed up at town halls and public appearances shaming their representatives for being so wasteful with our tax dollars. We need the tea party to show the same kind of passion and drive that they did those few summers ago.
Democrat Representatives won’t buckle on the immigration issue because they have too much at stake in making sure the legislation gets passed as is. However, if tea party groups would focus their attention on the establishment candidates and their party leaders, then maybe we can keep this messy bill from passing. Be ready folks; the August recess will be here soon, and we have to be prepared to battle the immigration bill in our states, counties, and towns if we hope to stop it.