Immigration Reform Moves Forward Despite Ted Cruz, Nativist Right

Immigration reform sailed through the first cloture vote on Tuesday, setting the stage for a Senate battle over the path to citizenship and guest worker program.

This video from White House staffers tells stories I hear repeated across all different pathways on a near-daily basis. I hear other stories, too. Stories about suffering because hard-working family people can't step out of the shadows of their undocumented status and get in line to become a legal resident and ultimately a citizen.

The good news is that some form of comprehensive immigration reform is moving forward in the Senate. The bad news is that the nativist right has awoken and is roaring at the prospect of letting brown people become citizens. Never mind that the process will be grueling and take about ten years to actually happen. Never mind that while they wait, they're working for too little pay and at risk of deportation over something as trivial as a parking ticket.

Never mind all that, because people like Ted Cruz, the son of an immigrant, think it's just a terrible idea to allow more immigration. Cruz told The Fine Print that any pathway to citizenship will kill the bill.

Echoing Steve Benen, I can't think of why Cruz can't see that the whole point of the bill is to create a pathway to citizenship.

Greg Sargent sees Cruz' resistance as being all about opposing Barack Obama:

What’s more, immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship is also supported by many major GOP stakeholders and GOP-aligned special interests, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to prominent members of the GOP consultant/strategist establishment. There are a variety of reasons for this, including the belief among many that modernizing the party’s position on immigration is essential to repairing the party’s relations with Latinos.

And yet, in the reality inhabited by the new Senator from Texas, the path to citizenship is a threat to the bill primarily because President Obama wants it. Thank you, Senator, for clarifying exactly what this is really all about.

I don't agree with that. Cruz is certainly a classic example of the "I've got mine, so screw you" conservative mindset. But I listened to what seemed like an endless rant on the Senate floor yesterday and came to the conclusion that Cruz is a bigot who is guided by nativist impulses.

In the debate to come, we're going to hear all about how allowing undocumented workers to get in line for legal status will mean stripping them of any and all benefits. No Obamacare. No Social Security. And God forbid those underpaid, overworked field workers should file tax returns and qualify for the EITC. We can't have that, no sir, no how. They will try and make it as difficult as possible to even allow those workers to step forward, and they will definitely try to force them into an endless holding pattern.

Still, the fact remains that Republicans need immigration reform to stay alive as a viable political party. They need it more right now than the Democrats do, and that leaves the door open for something meaningful to happen, despite Ted Cruz. Here's another doozy from him, by the way:

“The path the White House is going down, I believe, is designed for this bill to fail,” Cruz says. “It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the president go and campaign in 2014 on this issue.”

Cruz' compatriots are mostly in the House of Representatives, with just a couple of exceptions. It seems to me what he was really saying was that the Senate will actually make an honest effort to get something done but the Tea Party-infested rat's nest we call the House of Representatives will kill it, and along with it, the Republican Party.

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