2013 is already shaping up to be a year of shifting political ideologies. And nobody is more indicative of that fact than Sen. John McCain. During George W. Bush’s presidency, McCain was an enthusiastic advocate for effective immigration reform, earning him the support of Hispanic voters and helping push him toward his 2008 presidential run.
That all changed once he started his presidential campaign. McCain started to adopt a much more conservative tone on the topic of immigration, pushing for increased border security rather than reforms to make the immigration process easier for hopeful new Americans. This cost him both the Hispanic and the moderate-left demographics in the election, and, as we all know, he lost to now-President Barack Obama.
It's been eight years, and the spotlight is back on immigration issues. There are three major players in this round: Sen. Marco Rubio, a young congressman from the state of Florida who is looking to make his mark by enacting reform that will draw the swelling Hispanic demographic into his fold — and by doing so will cement his place in the 2016 Republican presidential race. There's the aforementioned McCain, who is looking to seal his legacy and return to his roots while also leaving his party in a position to succeed in the upcoming years. And finally, President Obama, who is hoping to fulfill promises made during his first term while solidifying the large waves of Hispanic support he got during the 2012 election.
Each of these men has different motivations, and each has different ideas when it comes to policy. Rubio, who is the unspoken representative for the far-right on immigration issues, has made it clear Republicans will not accept any reform that doesn't include a so-called "trigger option," which would ensure the bill only goes into effect if various border security measures are also passed.
On the opposite side of the very slim spectrum of American immigration reform ideology is President Obama, who released his plan on Tuesday. He supports some additional funding for enhanced border security but not any new measures. He also supports extending immigration rights to members of the LGBTQ community by allowing same-sex spouses of those with green cards to enter the U.S., something that is sure to raise the ire of the GOP.
And in the middle of it all is McCain, who has reached his last years in the Senate and is currently playing the role of mediator between the Republicans and the Democrats. His true position on the issues is yet to be seen, but be sure that he knows what is riding on the outcome of these talks. Will his career end in success or crushing failure? Time will tell.
Here is what's sure: There are approximately 11 million disenfranchised, undocumented immigrants in this country, many of whom would've immigrated legitimately if not for the convoluted process to gain American citizenship. There are families being ripped apart and children forced to stay in America on their own just so they can attend college.
A question we all have to ask ourselves is this: If the current system was the same in the last U.S. immigration boom, when all of Europe was traveling to the New World, would we have the diversity that makes America great? If not, something needs to change.
The ball is now in Congress and the president's court. Will we see more inaction or will we see McCain, Rubio and Obama achieve one of the greatest bipartisan political victories of this decade? The answer will come soon.
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