By Erin Drushel

[avatar user=”ErinDrushel” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]Erin Drushel[/avatar]

The great hope for a bipartisan solution to reforming the immigration system in the United States continues to falter along the way.  Two weeks ago – in a bipartisan vote – the Senate passed its version of an overhaul to the system including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and improved border security.  However, House Republicans say they won’t even entertain the Senate’s bill and instead will start their own discussions on immigration reform today.

Although Republicans have stated that they want to get immigration reform “done right” and not for political reasons, there are plenty of political reasons to not only get it done, but to also lead the charge.  One prominent reason: Marco Rubio.

Projections leading up to the 2016 presidential election seem to indicate that Rubio is a contender, especially if Hilary Clinton (D) decides not to run.  But his name is synonymous with immigration reform and if he can’t make that happen in a bipartisan way prior to the election, then the added push the GOP needs to surpass the Democrats just won’t be there.

The GOP does seem to understand that Rubio may be their only viable hope come 2016.  An article in the New York Times highlighted this apparent knowledge by Conservative groups who appear to be trying to cushion Rubio in the event immigration reform fails with ads thanking him for his hard work.  The angle the ads take relate to promoting stronger border security rather than immigration reform itself.

Can you say “cognitive disconnect?”

As per what is now usual, a divided Republican party is tripping up its candidates and falling over its own rhetoric.  To win the presidency they need to appeal to a broader base of the electorate, but they also need to keep the support of the far right grassroots they cultivated with their more extreme isolationist views.

The main question is what does the GOP want?  Do they (1) want a better shot at winning the next presidential election, (2) real and thoughtful reform of the immigration system, or (3) punitive reform with a strong element of isolationism?

No matter how you slice it and no matter what the GOP decides their priorities are, millions of lives are hanging in the balance and will continue to do so until something is finally done.

– Erin Drushel