Dairy Talk: Primed for Immigration Reform

November 28, 2012 03:35 AM

Jim DickrellThere’s nothing quite like an election—especially if you lose—to focus the mind.

The Republican party had one of those come-to-
you-know-who moments after it lost the presidential election. One of the key numbers in the postmortem analysis: More than 70% of Hispanic American voters checked the box for President Obama. Only 27% voted for Mitt Romney.

And it gets even more serious. Political observers in Texas now fear this bastion of conservatism could become a blue—as in Democratic blue—state.

"If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be in the majority in [Texas]," the newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the New Yorker the week after the election.

"If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House," he said. "If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to 270 electoral votes."

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Cruz is not alone in his assessment. Charles Kraut-hammer, the Washington Post’s anti-everything-Obama columnist, has this to say: "The principal reason [Hispanics] go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants.…

"[T]he problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty, full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement."

Democrats aren’t blameless, either. There was plenty of grumbling during the campaign that President Obama and his party did little to push immigration reform. Some observers say Democrats have been all too willing to simply play politics with immigration reform.

Yes, the President did administratively and temporarily OK the Dream Act, which legalizes the status of several million undocumented youth. But it is not enshrined in permanent
law—and for most immigration reform advocates, it is too little and too late. So Democrats, too, are under pressure to stand and deliver meaningful reform.

How soon those reforms are taken up by Congress depends a lot on, well, Congress. It must first deal with the "fiscal cliff" crisis. There’s also the stalled farm bill, which has been hanging around unfinished since the August recess.

Nevertheless, the election gives some clarity as to what each political party is dealing with, says Craig Regelbrugge, co-chair of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform. "Both parties have compelling reasons to complete reforms," he says.

If immigration reform is to come, it most likely will happen in the first half of 2013. "That’s the open window to get something done," Regelbrugge says.

And while agriculture has been promised reform in the past, dairy producers must get beyond their cynicism. "Dairy farmers need to re-energize on the issue," Regelbrugge says.

"You need to rekindle your political work, especially if you wrote a check," he says. Once immigration reform is being taken up, re-engage those congressmen and women to remind them of your needs.

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