July 17, 2013
As reported by the USA Today, immigration reform is facing a tough road through the House of Representatives. Even broadly popular provisions (such as the DREAM Act) are finding resistance from many conservative republicans, including Tom Cotton, a newly-elected representative from Arkansas:
“If they insist upon legalization before any of those steps, then it is not likely that we are going to pass real and valuable immigration reform this Congress,” [Cotton] says. He notes that Senate Democrats have said that establishing a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally is essential to a bill.
His opposition to establishing a way to achieve legal status extends to the “Dreamers,” the young people who have grown up in the United States after being brought here by their parents.
“We’d have to know that we aren’t encouraging the next wave of illegal immigration,” he said. “If you’re a mom or dad and you see the opportunity that has been provided to someone else’s child who took them to the United States illegally, to become a legal American and maybe a citizen, who wouldn’t take that risk?”
Cotton, 36, has been in office for only six months, but he is part of a new breed of Republicans who haven’t hesitated to challenge their own leadership, taking a harder line on some issues and being less willing to cut political deals.
Like many newly-elected representatives, Tom Cotton won a contentious primary in a safe Republican district by presenting himself as the most conservative option. If he is seen as compromising with Democrats on this (or any other) issue, he would open himself up to a primary challenge from the right, putting his job in jeopardy. Figuring out how to provide political cover for conservative Republicans like Representative Cotton (without watering down the bill so much that it ceases to be effective) will be key to getting an Immigration Reform bill through the House.
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