Thursday, December 15, 2005

Anti-immigration sentiment ripe for political manipulation

This article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that the White House will turn to immigration as an issue that can shore up its waning support among senior citizens.

As reported previously here in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, some have eyed the issue as a weapon against Tennessee's Governor Phil Bredesen in his re-election bid in 2006.

The national sentiment against immigrants and immigration is evident in this listing of various polls on the subject.

Various pieces of immigration legislation are making their way through the U.S. Congress, including this punishment-focused bill opposed by the business community and religious leaders. The bill was described in this Wall Street Journal article as specifically designed with "get-tough" measures to appeal to voters in 2006:

"The bill's congressional supporters say it was designed with the 2006 elections in mind. Will Adams, spokesman for Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, the leader of an immigration-restriction faction in the House, says Republican leaders asked their members for get-tough ideas to include in the bill. 'They wanted red-meat votes -- votes that appeal to the conservative base,' Mr. Adams says."

The article says that this particular bill reflects a harsh sentiment in the House that is not shared by the Senate, and that neither the Senate nor President Bush would be expected to push the bill toward law. Nonetheless, it is souring the debate and making compromise less likely, shaping up 2006 to be a year of rhetoric and little progress.
[update 12/16/2005]

As reported previously in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, there are both Democrats and Republicans who are concerned that the current tone of immigration rhetoric is more harmful than helpful.

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