Immigration at the Core of America’s Divisions

Europe is not the only nation struggling to cope with one of the great movements of our time — immigration. The United States is also divided on this subject, which is a familiar one to them, as immigration is one of the fundamental elements of its DNA. However, on the other side of the Atlantic, as on the Old Continent, the scale of the migration wave is upsetting the political game and will be a key issue in the presidential election on Nov. 8, 2016.

For years, the United States has been confronting the problem of illegal immigrants — a population of at least 11 million, most of whom came from south of the Rio Grande. With more than 2,000 kilometers of land bordering Mexico and two huge coastlines, the U.S. can limit illegal immigration, but without becoming a totalitarian system, can never stop is completely (Europe is facing a similar problem). The U.S. has erected a fence along the Mexican border and has strengthened its immigration control process considerably.

However, year after year, the group of illegals is renewed and maintained. President George W. Bush, a Republican, and his successor, Democrat Barack Obama, tried hard to find a bipartisan majority to support legislation on the issue. They concocted similar bills, aiming to pave the way for the legalization of the majority of undocumented immigrants — a population for which the unemployment rate is very low and that has been settled there long enough to have American-born children who themselves have children.

Obama Regulated by Decree

Obama’s efforts were blocked by the majority of Republican representatives, who were supported by a minority of his Democratic colleagues. To get around this obstructing majority, Obama eventually ended up regulating by decree. As Ronald Reagan’s [decrees] did in the 1980s, Obama’s decrees allowed the regularization of some 5 million illegals. This caused immediate uproar among Republicans, who brought the case to a federal appeals court. The appeals court decided on Tuesday, May 26 to place a hold on the presidential order, thereby inflicting a defeat on a major point of Barack Obama’s program.

Originally in favor of immigration, the Republican Party has become the champion of anti-immigration Americans, a movement that has continued to grow in recent years and that mobilizes the most active Republican militants, including those of the tea party, 90 percent of whom are middle-class white men. They denounce an America that is changing too fast, that is “globalizing” from within, and where Latinos and Asians take up too much space.

The problem is that this position could very well cost the Republican Party the presidential election. More than 70 percent of recent American immigrants vote Democrat because the Democratic Party is currently the most open to immigration. The Republican-Democrat divide is quickly transforming into a split between white men on one side and ethnic minorities on the other, with the latter, namely Latinos, continuing to increase in population and gain importance in the electorate. This week, Republicans are celebrating the new defeat imposed upon Obama. But the more aware among them know that this political victory might portend, for Republicans, hard times to come.

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