Obama plans road trip to push immigration

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is heading out on the road to promote the Senate’s immigration rewrite bill, amid increasingly effective opposition from the Republican base.

“Obama likely will travel in the coming months to some of the battleground states he won with the help of a robust Latino vote—possibly including Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida—to argue the economic case for passing the immigration overhaul,” according to a July 7 report in the Wall Street Journal.

“He will also try to convince reticent Republican lawmakers that the GOP’s viability as a national party with aspirations of winning back the White House is linked to the fate of the bill,” said the report, which was attributed to White House officials.

That goal means that Obama is pushing himself into the middle of an emerging fight between populists and business-minded immigration advocates within the GOP.

Obama’s pending road-trip marks a reversal of his previously under-the-radar tactics, which helped push the far-reaching rewrite through the Senate. All 55 Democratic Senators supported the bill, as did 14 GOP Senators.

However, there’s increasing opposition from the GOP’s base, including Tea Party groups.

That opposition helped split a bipartisan group of eight House legislators, who are now finishing to proposals that have similar provisions for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, yet have very different provisions for guest workers.

A former member of the House’s “Gang of Eight,” Rep. Raul Labrador, warned July 7 that an immigration rewrite could wreck the GOP.

“If we don’t do it right, politically it’s going to be the death of the Republican Party,” he told NBC’s “Met The Press” Sunday show.

“If we don’t do it right what’s going to happen is we’re going to lose our base because we’re still going to have a large number of illegal immigrants coming into the United States,” he said.

Also, a poorly designed bill could leave the Democrats with the ability to win over Latino votes by offering more government benefits, he warmed.

“The Hispanic community is not going to listen to us because they’re going to always listen at this point to the people that are offering more, that are offering a faster pathway to citizenship,” he warned.

In 2012, Obama boost his support and turnout among Hispanics by implementing a mini-amnesty for Latino youth that had been repeatedly rejected by Congress, and had never been appropriated any funds by Congress.

The GOP’s business-minded wing is pushing for a rewrite that would allow a major influx of new workers and consumers.

The wing is important, in part, because it provides a huge portion of the GOP’s political donations, and has close ties with the GOP’s congressional leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Party’s chief whip in the House.

In the short-term, that’s compatible with Democratic priorities, which call for a quick “path to citizenship” to ensure the new immigrants can vote for Democratic candidates as soon as five or ten years after passage of the law.

Some analysts say the Senate’s pending bill would boost immigration to 46 million people over the next 10 years, and bring in more than one million low-skill and university-trained guest workers every year on multi-year visas.

The GOP’s populist wing, however, opposes the Senate’s bill, saying it hurts U.S. workers, social cohesion and the Republican Party.

They’re pushing for curbs on immigration that they argue would boost wages for GOP-leaning voters who didn’t turn out in 2008 or 2012. They also say that bringing in less immigration that pull more Latinos into the middle class, where they’re less dependent on government and more concerned about taxes and education.

This group says it position is bolstered by the June 16 report by the Congressional Budget Office, which said the Senate plan would curb average wages and shift national income from wage-earners to investors for at least 20 years. The CBO also said the Senate plan would curb illegal immigration by between one-third and one-half of the current rate.

The House’s GOP caucus is expected to hold a meeting July 10 to debate immigration strategy.

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