Once again, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is leading the charge to undermine immigration reform. As our Executive Director here at America’s Voice Frank Sharry has noted, Cornyn has played that role before, the last time immigration reform legislation was debated in 2006-2007. This time, Cornyn is planning to introduce a “poison pill” amendment that would undermine the bipartisan Gang of 8 bill. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted Cornyn’s tactic:
“We have a senator from Texas, Senator Cornyn who wants to change border security, a trigger, saying that it has to be a 100 percent border security, or [there will] be no bill. That’s a poison pill,” Reid said on Univision’s Al Punto.
USA Today also editorialized Cornyn’s poison pill strategy:
[T]aken to extremes, demands for tough enforcement can be used as a tool for killing reform entirely. And that, unfortunately, appears to be the tactic of choice for some Senate Republicans, who don’t want to lose Hispanic votes by opposing a bipartisan immigration bill but don’t particularly want it to pass either.
Their plan is to set impossible enforcement goals that would have to be met before any of today’s estimated 11 million undocumented workers could gain legal status.
One case in point is a proposed amendment to the compromise bill crafted by the so-called Gang of Eight senators. Written by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the amendment would turn the plan’s 10-year wait for green cards for undocumented workers into a never-ending one.
So, Cornyn is up to his old tricks. Republicans should really consider whether they want to follow Cornyn’s strategy here. Keep in mind, Cornyn ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in 2010 and 2012 cycles. In both elections, pundits predicted the GOP would garner a majority in the Senate. Both times, Latino voters blocked that from happening. In 2010, Latino voters provided a firewall in Nevada, Colorado and California, thwarting Cornyn. In 2012, with Mitt “Self-Deportation” Romney at the top of the GOP ticket, Democrats picked up seats, rather than lost them, in the Senate. You would have thought Cornyn learned a lesson about Latino voters. But, clearly, he didn’t.
In 2013, many Republican leaders understand that they need to undertake outreach to Latino voters. That begins with passage of immigration reform. Even Karl Rove proferred that advice last week.Some Republican get that–but not John Cornyn, which is why he’s playing the same games he played in 2006 and 2007. But the political stakes are much higher this time around. If Cornyn’s poison pill blocks the path to citizenship and kills reform, there will be a heavy political price for the GOP to pay — for decades to come.
Cornyn already failed his colleagues politically as head of the NRSC. Now, he seems intent on driving the entire GOP off a demographic cliff.