The Cycle | November 27, 2012
>>> president obama meets at the white house this hour with mexi mexico's president-elect. there's plenty to discuss, but at top of the list according to the white house immigration reform . president obama won more than two-thirds of the latino vote. the administration believes that should be a wake-up call for republicans to get on board with a bill about the border. a new abc news poll shows a majority of americans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already on u.s. soil. is this issue finally fertile ground in washington? let's spin about it. i don't think we can eliminate or separate the immigration discussion from the drug war , which stretches across the united states and mexico. part of the immigration discussion and the drug war wrapped up in this fear of, you know, drugs, violence, poor folks participating and escaping from the drug war coming here. america is slowly moving against the war on drugs . it's kinld of amazing to see this movement. we see colorado and washington creating a very liberal open policy, california striking down their three-strikes law. that says let's not have nonviolent drug offenders go away to jail for a long time. judges and police say this is a losing battle. let's move towards treatment and decriminalization and treat it like alcohol rather than prohibition and criminalization. we have a mexican president saying, hey, let's look at a different way to treat this thing. let's talk about what he recently said. in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug traffickings. it's clear after several decades we have more drug consumption, drug use , drug trafficking . things are not working. a change in the drug policy would have a massive impact on the economy and on crime in both north america and throughout south america , and would lead the way and open the path toward a more humane immigration policy and people in america accepting them.
>> i think you're right. it's been interesting. as things have moved politically in terms of the war on drugs , we've also, of course, seen after this election potential movement on comprehensive immigration reform . republicans recognizing that they cannot continue down this path of losing latino voters by such a large margin. the president addressed at his recent press conference the possibility of immigration reform . let's take a listen.
>> i think there's a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in a criminal activity, are here simply to work. it's important for them to pay back taxes and important to learn english and it's important for them to potentially pay a fine. but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country is very important.
>> now, one thing that stuck out to me there is rather than saying path to citizenship he said path to legal status , which is two different things. with citizen ship you can vote and with legal status you can't. for a lot of republicans a sticking point has been that distinction. it was their problem with the dream act , because when you lose latino voters by that large margin, you don't want more latino voters. ann coulter said something at a conference a while back that stuck with me. she said after obama care our biggest issue is immigration because if we allow amnesty the whole country will go the way of california and we will never win a national election again. i think that distinction could be an important one in this battle and sticking point. the other thing is republicans have used the immigration issue in primaries and with their base for so long, i do think that this issue a comprehensive immigration reform bill could create a amajor scism within the republican party and could be a new litmus test for republicans .
>> it might. one solution to that might be to introduce more sort of piecemeal approaches as opposed to a huge comprehensive bill. one of those bills is the s.t.e.m. jobs act. it was introduced in december and was defeated. it will be brought up again in the lame duck i'm hearing. the gop has tinkered with it. allows highly skilled foreign students to study here in those areas, and then they don't have to go back home or to foreign countries to put those skills to uchlts we want them to stay here and make the visa process easier and make it easier for them to then bring their families here. so it's a good piece of legislation. i think if looks at immigration in a way that counts education and employment. those are two huge factors when addressing the immigration issue. it identifies a gap in the marketplace, that gap being skilled workers in science and tech, and creates a st. louolution based on education and immigration reforms. i think if republicans can survey the landscape and find those areas where they can come up with immigration overtures that may collectively look like a bigger immigration reform package, i think they can be saled they did the right thing without giving everything they want away.
>> that might work they'oretically piecemeal. the important thing is the idea it could create it in the republican party . it really did in 2006 when a few republicans namely george w. bush , karl rove and john mccain and the senate realized the democratic future and had to do go about it. they got 44% of the hispanic vote in 2004 . they said let's increase this and cement it and we can have the permanent republican majority. what happened was the republican base, the conservative information establishment wasn't there at all. they didn't look at the long-term demographic picture and say there's an emergency here. they looked at 2004 and said, we won. why give away anything here? there was this total sort of revolt within the republican network, and it resulted in -- it nearly killed john mccain 's presidential campaign in 2008 . where are we today? we're in a different place. the parties lost an election in part because of the hispanic issues. there are voices now i'm hearing -- i don't say uniform consensus on the right about this. i've heard voices i've never heard speak up before. sean hannity has spoke up. it creates an opportunity for -- this issue is sitting there for a decade now, this idea that pathway to citizenship is stalled. it creates an opportunity for the reform for real comprehensive immigration reform activists and advocates to say here it is. this is the big bill . comprehensive immigration reform . forget the piecemeal stuff. republicans are on board or not.
>> yes or no.
>> i bet half the republicans say no. if they get half to say yes and guys like sean hannity giving them cover.
>> sean hani intellectually is so small. the evolution is not enough to stop the sort of demographic train of latinos and hispanics becoming part of the democratic party for a long time. you should live in fear of that. we know if the latinos and hispanics go the way black people go the 50 years, it's over for the republican p party.
>> when you look at 2004 , republicans said we won 44% of this population. we're clearly winning on policy. we don't need to address this anymore, and we don't need to address the immigration issue. that was a huge mistake. you're absolutely right. they should have taken that and built momentum and made more overtures instead of ignoring this population.
>> they didn't ignore them. they didn't ignore them. they demonized them. they went the opposite way .
>> i don't think so.
>> another danger is if there's a split as is likely in the republican party , in primaries you'll see some very ugly rhetoric around this.
>> people will highlight a problem in the republican party in terms of rhetoric around latinos and around immigration .
>> it will be the big question the opinion-shaping voices on the right in the republican party . hannity is one of them, but there are many others. do they fan the flames like they did in 2006 ?
>> we also need leaders that shut down that kind of decisive rhetoric and say, your language is not representing us, and it's not working anymore.
>> absolutely. when the rushes and coulters lead it, you have problems. you talk about piecemeal. this president wants comprehensive reform, not little pieces.
>> i'm glad he's doing it now. we do need big controversial --
>> s.e. cupp answers it.
>> i answered the call.
>> next, road trip . the campaigning's done, so what is the president hitting the highway for now? not immigration .