How Will the Election Results Impact Chances of Immigration Reform?

As the midterm elections wrap up, it is clear that Democrats gained majority control of the US House and Republicans increased their majority control in the US Senate. What does this bode for passing real solutions for border security and immigration reform? It is notable that the only two Texas Republican Representatives who lost their reelections and gave up their seats to Democrats voted against the Republican-crafted and Trump-supported Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018

As of 10:30 AM CT November 8, in the House Democrats hold 223 seats, Republicans hold 197, and 15 seats are yet to be declared. Republicans currently hold 51 seats in the Senate and will likely hold 53 at the end of November following a recount in Florida and runoff in Mississippi. 

With a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House, any and all Federal legislation passed in the next two year Congressional session will require bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans. How will this affect much needed reform to fix our broken immigration system, secure the border, and protect the Dreamers before the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the executive order that created DACA? Will our lawmakers work together to pass legislation for the betterment of the American people, or will they stay divided and focus only on political gains? 

While a divided Congress is a good thing in the spirit of democracy, it has the potential to be bad for legislative efficiency. However, looking back at history, there is reason to be optimistic. Recall that the last successful comprehensive immigration reform was passed in 1986 by the Reagan Administration when it had a Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House. 

President Trump, who will be looking to make deals before his second presidential election, and modeled his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” after Reagan’s “Let’s Make America Great Again,” has repeatedly tried to appeal to Democrat and Republican lawmakers on immigration reform. Recall that President Trump even supported legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers (over twice as many as Obama protected with his executive order) in exchange for $25 billion in border security. He also supported the best attempt at immigration reform in the current legislative session, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018, which would have adequately secured the border and funded the wall, ended family separations, and provided a conditional pathway for 1.8 million Dreamers to earn their legal status.

While Democrats resisted any and all immigration legislation that included adequate border security while under the current Republican-led Congress and presidency, they may be more willing to work with Republicans now that they control the House, and thus will receive more credit for any new legislation that is passed. After the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 failed to receive a single vote from any Democrat lawmaker, Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) pointed out that the bill contained more than what Democrats have been asking for in immigration reform, suggested that their decisions to vote against the bill were purely political in nature, and revealed that many of them even told him privately that they thought the bill was actually good legislation. “They told us that they thought this was good policy but that the politics made it impossible for them to support it," he said. Now that Democrats control the House, maybe they will be looking to pass real solutions instead of just resisting.

Republicans also failed to pass immigration reform when they had control largely due to a few immigration hardliners who would rather have issues to campaign on than pass real solutions that increase our national security and benefit our economy. However, in Texas, voters appear to have decided that they no longer support these type of self-serving immigration hardliners. An indicator of this assumption is how Republican immigration hardliners who voted against the Republican-crafted Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 faired in their elections in comparison to those who voted in favor of it. Every Texas Republican US Representative who voted in favor of this immigration bill, Joe Barton, Kevin Brady, Michael Mccaul, Michael Conaway, Mac Thornberry, and Bill Flores won their elections. On the other hand, the only two Texas Republican US Representatives who lost their reelections and gave up their seats to Democrats, Pete Sessions and John Culberson, voted against this bill. 

Now that the mid-term elections are over, hopefully Congress will put politics aside and work to legislate productive policies that will benefit Americans. Americans would benefit greatly from immigration reform that not only secures the border and increases national security, but that provides the Dreamers and undocumented workers who can pass background checks with a pathway to earn their legal status so the government can ID and Tax them properly while allowing them to continue contributing to our economy. 

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