Politics

Sen. Jeff Sessions slams immigration pact supported by GOP House majority leader

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The apparent disagreement between Sessions and Cantor may only be tactical.

Republican leaders don’t want to strongly oppose the pending immigration deal, partly because they don’t want to be portrayed by Democratic legislators and reporters as hostile to Hispanic voters.

The GOP’s share of the Latino voted slipped slightly from 31 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2012. But the four-point drop was exacerbated by an increased Latino turnout that comprised 9 percent of the electorate. (ANN COULTER: Amnesty won’t turn Hispanics into Republicans)

Many GOP legislators want to pass a series of small-scale immigration reform measures that would weaken Latino support for Democratic politicians, without alienating the GOP’s base of middle class and working class white voters.

The Sessions-Cantor divergence may also be offset by the political fragility of the union-Chamber bargain.

The Feb. 21 bargain was announced shortly after media reports said the groups’ negotiators had deadlocked after months of closed door meetings.

“AFL-CIO/Chamber principles on imported labor just PR thing to reassure amnesty crowd that talks haven’t fallen apart,” said a tweet from Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

The Center is an immigration-reform group that is pushing to reduce annual immigration to 500,000 people. In January, the center funded a poll by a Rasmussen subsidiary which showed that 90 percent of union members said the reduction of illegal immigration was important to them, while only 9 percent thought it was not important. (RELATED: Union members sharply split on immigration)

Despite the Feb. 21 applause, the bargain is vague on critical issues.

“We have found common ground in several important areas, and have committed to continue to work together. … We are now in the middle – not the end – of this process, and we pledge to continue to work together,” said a statement from the unions and the chamber.

The details are critical, because they helped wreck previous attempts to institute guest-worker programs.

“First, American workers should have a first crack at available jobs,” says the bargain.