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Immigration Crisis: Advantage Democrats

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Protesters calling for immigration reform and a mariachi band crowded Rep. Cory Gardner's office on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Protesters calling for immigration reform and a mariachi band crowded Rep. Cory Gardner’s office on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Dominic Dezzutti By Dominic Dezzutti
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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Immigration issues in the United States have frustrated politicians ever since the country was formally created. They are not new and a perfect solution will never exist.

It didn’t exist for my great grandparents who arrived from Italy, and it won’t exist for any of the thousands of Central American minors making their way to our country over the past few months.

That may seem cynical to claim, but only peace in the Middle East has been more elusive than effective immigration policy in the U.S.

I do not claim to have the answer nor that any particular political party or elected leader has the plan that can solve everything. But one thing I am confident in is that Democrats may be able to turn the most recent crisis into a major advantage this fall.

First, with every story about immigration come the predictable attacks on Congressional Republicans looking like obstruction to progress. The “progress” that is proposed may or may not an effective proposal, but what is effectively happening is the GOP is playing the predictable and negative role of obstructionists.

Secondly, with every week that the immigration crisis is in the headlines, it’s one more week that Obamacare is not. Many pundits thought the 2014 election was going to be a referendum on Obamacare and that Democrats would not fare well. But for a variety of reasons, Obamacare has taken a back seat.

Thirdly, the only part of Obamacare that has made headlines has been the results of the Hobby Lobby case regarding corporations opting to not pay for birth control for employees based on religious views. Democrats are using this to focus on women’s issues and again pose GOP candidates and elected officials as extremists that are opposed to women’s health coverage.

Okay, first things first. If any Republican is reading this, they are likely to argue with all three of my assertions. I can understand a different point of view and perspective on the issues.

But remember, facts do not matter as much in an election year as we would like to believe. It’s the impression provided to unaffiliated voters that rule the day. And that impression is not helping Republicans.

Colorado voters know it better than most that Republican candidates can be effectively pigeonholed on women’s health issues. Just ask Ken Buck how effective the campaign against him was in 2010. It’s easy to see that Democrats are using the exact same script against Cory Gardner.

But back to immigration. Even though Hispanics are as varied in political opinions as any other group of people, polls shows that Democrats fare far better on immigration issues with Hispanics than does the GOP. It’s also way too easy for Republicans to look like racists when being critical of immigration issues than it is for Democrats.

Immigration is a tricky issue and Democrats can certainly find ways to screw it up. But Republicans can get trapped on it far easier.

We will know very soon if immigration is an effective wedge issue. If it is, we’ll see ads accusing the other party of endorsing disaster and travesty very quickly. If it is an effective wedge issue, Republican candidates will need to work hard to find a way to fight back.

In a year where the GOP is expected to make major progress, especially in the U.S. Senate, the situation at the border may become a crisis for more than one group of people.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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