What’s next for immigration now that Republicans control the Senate

Republicans gained control of the Senate Tuesday night, after knocking down three Democratic incumbents and winning three open seats. The three Democrats who lost their…
What’s next for immigration now that Republicans control the Senate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrates his victory over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in the midterm senate elections alongside his wife Elaine Chao during a victory rally at the Louisville Marriott East hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on Tuesday November 4, 2014. (Luke Sharrett for Bloomberg)

Republicans gained control of the Senate Tuesday night, after knocking down three Democratic incumbents and winning three open seats.

The three Democrats who lost their bid for re-election are Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also won his re-election bid and will likely be named the new Senate majority leader.

SEE ALSO: In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott is re-elected but Rep. Joe Garcia loses

With Republicans in control of both chambers in Congress, it now begs the question: what are the chances of passing immigration reform legislation?

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seems to think the chances are high. He recently said on “Fox News Sunday” that an immigration reform bill will reach President Barack Obama’s desk if Republicans win control of the Senate.

But immigration reform advocates aren’t too optimistic.

Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, told VOXXI Tuesday morning that the odds of getting an immigration reform bill through Congress if Republicans gain control the Senate are “exceedingly small.”

“If the Republicans take control of the Senate, I don’t see how there’s any possibility of immigration reform getting accomplished in the 114th Congress,” Fitz said.

He said one reason for that is because Senate Republicans will likely try to work with House Republicans to pass smaller immigration bills that focus on border security and immigration enforcement. And those bills, he said, might not include a plan to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

Fitz added that it would be difficult to get Democrats on board if that’s the approach Republicans take on immigration. But more importantly, he said, Republicans would “be digging themselves a much, much deeper hole” with Latino voters.

SEE ALSO: Election eve poll: Top issue for Latino voters is immigration

Republicans didn’t do well in their efforts to win Latino votes in the 2012 elections, when Romney picked up only 27 percent of the Latino vote while Obama received 71 percent of the Latino vote.

Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, said that in order for Republicans to do well in the 2016 elections, they must find a way to make inroads with Latinos. And one way to do that, he said, is through the issue of immigration.

“This is an opportunity for them to act on immigration, which is a priority for the Latino community and Republicans know that,” Garza told VOXXI. “We’re going to be pushing them every step of the way to make sure that they do.”

Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, said he does predict Senate Republicans will draft immigration reform legislation. But like Fitz, Alex questions how that legislation would look like. He fears Republicans will come up with a bill that Latinos won’t support.

“I think Republicans will attempt to pass something, because they need to show that they can actually do their job by passing laws,” Alex said. “Unfortunately, because of the rightward shift in that party, it will be something that is not going to be plausible for our community.”

SEE ALSO: Election forecast: Support for Dems among Latinos won’t be as strong

Another concern Alex said he has is whether Republicans will try to stop Obama from using his executive powers to extend deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. The president is expected to announce his immigration executive orders by the end of the year.

“If the president follows through with his commitment to our community, those on the right in the Senate and the House will be up in arms and will do everything they can to try to limit or reverse any positive or meaningful movement towards immigration,” Alex said.

Some Republicans have already voiced their opposition to Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration. Among them are Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — all of whom helped draft the Senate-approved immigration reform bill.

Garza, who wouldn’t say whether he supports Obama taking executive action on immigration, said many Republicans worry that the president will be “overstepping his authority” if he takes action on immigration. “They want long-lasting bipartisan reform, not with one person deciding what should be the remedy,” he said about Republicans.

Meanwhile, Fitz said he believes Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent Obama from taking executive action, including introducing legislation to strip away the president’s authority to provide relief to undocumented immigrants.

By doing so, he said, Republicans will be “blocking progress” on immigration and “insulting” Latino voters, whom he described as “the electorate that’s going to matter the most in the next presidential election.”

SEE ALSO: Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Latinos can determine these midterm elections

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