Is Congress Now Incapabable of Handling Immigration Reform?

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The Skinny noted last week that President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration had helped him approval rating among Latino voters.

But a new survey shows that Obama’s move—using prosecutorial discretion to defer deportation of up to 4 million undocumented immigrants now in the United States—has also hardened Republican attitudes toward immigration reform.

Polling numbers from Quinnipiac University show that before Obama announced his executive action last month, 43 percent of Republicans were supportive of a path to citizenship, while 38 percent thought all undocumented immigrants should be required to leave the country. In the wake of Obama’s new policy, 54 percent of Republicans now want all undocumented immigrants to leave the country, while just 27 percent believe they should be granted a path to citizenship.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake concludes that comprehensive immigration reform is now less likely than ever to happen:


And here's the real kicker: The shift is almost completely among Republicans. Although they supported citizenship over deportation 43 to 38 percent in November 2013, today they support deportation/involuntary departure over citizenship, 54 to 27 percent.

That's two to one—a stunning shift. And if it's even close to accurate, there are very few Republicans in Congress who will be eager to vote for comprehensive reform in the 114th Congress. The fear of primary challenges was already strong enough when the party was split on citizenship and deportation; now it's probably overwhelming (at least in the minds of self-preservation-minded incumbents).

The changes described above, of course, might not be only a result of what Obama did. They also could be influenced by the summer border crisis, for instance. But it's pretty logical to assume that Obama's actions pushed things in this direction (and the border crisis's effect on polling pretty well dissipated in recent months).

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