Public Revolts Against Obama, Political Establishment's Amnesty Efforts

Public Revolts Against Obama, Political Establishment's Amnesty Efforts

According to new national polling data from Pew Research, the American people have revolted against President Barack Obama’s and the GOP establishment’s efforts to grant amnesty to America’s at least 11 million illegal immigrants through comprehensive immigration reform.

“Only about a third of the public (32%) approves of the job Obama is doing on immigration policy; 60% disapprove,” Pew wrote. “Obama’s ratings for this issue among Democrats are mixed: About half (53%) approve of his handling of the issue while 42% disapprove.”

Obama’s 60 percent disapproval rating on immigration from the American people is an all-time high for him on the issue and puts him on par with former President George W. Bush’s immigration polling numbers. Obama’s immigration disapproval rating has skyrocketed as he has ramped up his efforts to lobby Congress for the passage of an amnesty–particularly the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.

As the American people have learned more and more about the Gang of Eight bill and the effects which amnesty and a drastic influx of millions of new workers would have on the hurting economy, they have grown more and more outraged with what Washington, D.C., is doing regarding immigration reform. In February–before Obama and lawmakers like Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and DIck Durbin (D-IL) began their push for immigration reform–the President’s immigration policy approval rating among the American people, according to Pew, was higher than his disapproval rating. His approval rating on immigration then was 44 percent, whereas his disapproval rating was 43 percent.

Over the next several months, the Obama administration worked with the Senate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans to develop the more-than-thousand-page-long Gang of Eight bill. The administration helped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rush the bill to the floor with hardly any substantive review from members, staffers, the media, and the American people.

In mid-June, before the Senate bill passed and as its ultimate passage became questionable, Obama’s Pew Research disapproval rating on immigration spiked up to 47 percent, and his approval rating on the issue dropped to 43 percent. With the public beginning to turn against amnesty, the Senators pushing for it cobbled together a series of amendments designed to win over extra votes in the Senate–like the Corker-Hoeven plan for their votes, casino kickbacks for Sen. Dean Heller’s vote, “Lobster Bait” for Susan Collins’ vote, and a seafood processing deal for Lisa Murkowski’s vote, among others–and rammed the bill through to final passage in the Senate.

Since then, Obama’s immigration disapproval rating, according to Pew, has skyrocketed to 60 percent. That disapproval rating is higher than George W. Bush’s ever was, according to a Pew chart on page 12 of the report, save one exception: in April 2006, Bush’s immigration disapproval rating reached 62 percent.

As Obama’s disapproval ratings reach all-time highs because of his support for amnesty, Republicans keep the issue alive. While House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says the issue will not receive any votes in the House in 2013, which is probably true, the effort to grant amnesty from House GOP leadership is alive and well–and likely to continue in early 2014. 

Officials like Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus and House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) keep offering Obama cover by continuing to push for some kind of immigration package. In an interview this week with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, Priebus continued pushing for amnesty.

“I think it can happen, and I think people like Paul Ryan and others still want something like that to happen,” Priebus said this week. “It could happen next year, I don’t think there’s any sort of midnight hour here.”

Ryan is in the process of drafting a bill that would grant America’s at least 11 million illegal immigrants legal status. “A lot of people are saying, just pass the Senate bill,” Ryan said this summer at a town hall event in Racine, Wisconsin. “That’s not what the House is going to do. I think we can make it better.”

Priebus and Ryan, if they keep pushing down this road, face the fate of what happened to Senator Rubio after he pushed for amnesty. Rubio has since backed off the push and publicly undercut the efforts of House GOP leadership to pass any group of piecemeal bills with the goal of getting to a conference committee negotiation with the Democratic Senate–from which a comprehensive immigration reform conference report like the Senate bill would arise. Rubio’s backtracking on the issue, and complete reversal of support for his own bill, came after the American people turned on him for supporting such a plan. Polling data over the past several months showed the once-promising presidential candidate tanking among Republican voters. 

House GOP leadership could technically kill this once and for all by promising publicly what Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) has advocated: that there will never be a conference committee with the Senate bill. However, they have left the door open, as pressure from lobbyists and groups funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros ratchet up pressure on House Republicans to pass an amnesty.

If such legislation as the Gang of Eight bill were ever to become law, it would be considered President Obama’s signature second-term legislative achievement, much like Obamacare is his first term’s signature achievement. The difference from Obamacare is that Republicans like Priebus and Ryan are helping him achieve it, at least for now–largely because the donor community on Wall Street wants this policy.

Despite all the pressure from donors and special interests to do what Ryan and Priebus are doing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, offers a different pathway forward for the GOP: flip this whole debate on its head, undercut amnesty, and make the Democrats wear the blame for having fought against the interests of American workers. 

“In changing the terms of the immigration debate we will not only prevent the implementation of a disastrous policy, but begin a larger effort to broaden our appeal to working Americans of all backgrounds,” Sessions wrote in a memo to his GOP colleagues this summer

Now is the time to speak directly to the real and legitimate concerns of millions of hurting Americans whose wages have declined and whose job prospects have grown only bleaker. This humble and honest populism–in contrast to the Administration’s cheap demagoguery–would open the ears of millions who have turned away from our party. Of course, such a clear and honest message would require saying “no” to certain business demands and powerful interests who shaped the immigration bill in the Senate.


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