As the Republicans contemplated their electoral defeat in the 2012 elections, one of the first issues that came to mind was the drubbing that the party had received amongst Hispanic voters.
The internecine warfare of the Republican primaries boxed Mitt Romney into a strong stance against illegal immigration and he called upon those in the United States illegally to engage in a process of "self deportation'.
Such remarks and others cost Mitt Romney heavily. Had he received the percentage of Hispanic voters carried by John McCain in 2008, let alone the 40% that George W. Bush received in 2004, he would now be working on his inauguration address
Outreach to Hispanics and other immigrant groups (the Republicans also lost Asian-Americans who were considered receptive to the Republican economic and social message) also appeared to be a simpler fix than concessions on fiscal and social issues.
Two Republican senators – Jon Kyl of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas – who are retiring this year, have sponsored what they have dubbed the Achieve Act. 2016 presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is working on his own version of immigration reform.
What Kyl and Hutchinson are offering is a legal status for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, but have since graduated college or served in the military. They would enjoy permanent status, but would no longer have the cloud of deportation hanging over their heads.
This falls short of the Obama administration's Dream Act which offers a path to full citizenship to illegal immigrants in the two aforementioned categories.Additionally, Barack Obama took the politically astute, albeit legally questionable, step in June of instructing the executive branch to cease deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who would've qualified under the Dream Act. The Achieve Act is the best that Kyl and Hutchinson have to offer because the Dream Act is a nonstarter in the Republican Party.
The Republican trump card is the party's control of the House of Representatives - and nothing can be passed without their consent. The question is whether Hispanics will prefer an Achieve Act in hand and passed into law over a Dream Act in the bush.
Kyl is hopeful that people will realize that a law passed by Congress is preferable to an end run that could be overturned by another administration.‘‘Those of us who strongly believe in the rule of law believe that in our country, if you don’t like the law, change it, or seek to change it. Don’t violate it.’’