GOP leaders have to sell immigration reform to base

Article author: 
Juan Williams
Article publisher: 
The Hill
Article date: 
20 May 2013
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

The biggest stumbling block to immigration reform is no longer politics. It is how to market the deal to conservatives.

...All that is left is for Republicans to make a show of being tough on undocumented immigrants.

The hard sell to the Republican base will be evident in the House version. It will feature a “hard trigger” that blocks citizenship if the government does not implement electronic verification — E-Verify — allowing employers to check on the immigration status of workers.

While the Senate bill prohibits the newly legal from being eligible for ObamaCare, the House bill is tailored to appeal to hard right sensibilities. It bans all entitlement benefits and forces the undocumented [illegal aliens] to admit they broke the law...

...the GOP sales job is the one that will make or break this Congress’s attempt at passing immigration reform....

The House, however, needs something to sell its base. E-Verify with a “hard trigger” is the added touch to seal the deal...

David Axelrod, who ran Obama’s successful campaigns, said a month ago the GOP base is beset with “paranoia” about passing an immigration bill. While the Republicans want to repair ties to the rising Hispanic electorate, they also know, as Axelrod put it: “This is a legacy item for [President Obama].” And the GOP, he said, does not want to give the president “this accomplishment.”

That fits with Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) assessment after the defeat of the gun control bill that Republicans did not want to “be seen helping the president.”...

The Speaker needs something to consolidate conservative support or, as he put it, to give Republican “stakeholders” something positive, something to support. His goal is to prevent another grassroots revolt on the right, akin to the one that scuttled immigration reform in 2007...