Will Immigration Reform Kill the Republican Party?

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Senate Democrats say they'll get the votes this week to pass an immigration bill backed by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight." But at least one senator admitted that bill will be "dead on arrival" in the House.

Some lawmakers in the GOP are sending out dire warnings that the party is through if it doesn't get on the right side of the bill.

"If we don't pass immigration reform, if we don't get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, warned.

"We're in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community, in my view, is to pass comprehensive immigration reform," he continued. "If you don't do that, it really doesn't matter who will run,"

But many conservatives are concerned that politics is pushing lawmakers to pass a 1,200-page immigration bill in the same way Congress passed Obamacare in 2009, without even knowing how it will affect the country.

"I reject the idea that this policy reform of fixing our broken immigration system should be done for political or electoral reasons. I think that's the wrong reason, and I think it could lead to a bad result, because then when you say that we have to do this for political reasons, you may end up swallowing a bad policy out of a misplaced desperation," Ralph Reed, founder of Faith and Freedom Coalition, said.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he won't support the bill after his amendment to enforce border security failed, but he's urging Republicans to appeal to Americans of all races and ages.

"We need to have this optimism, this happiness about our own party that is enticing to people, that will appeal to people of all races - when we look like America, when we have tattoos, with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails," he said.

For the Democrats, Senate Majority Whip Chuck Sen. Schumer's immigration push has been a brilliant political strategy, pushing the IRS and Benghazi scandals to the side, and dividing Republicans with a goal of adding millions of Democratic voters.

"Well look, this is going to be a historic week for the Senate as we pass comprehensive immigration reform. We're about at two-thirds of the Senate right now. Our momentum is growing, so I believe we'll be in the neighborhood of 70 votes by the time the vote occurs at the end of the week," Schumer, D-N.Y., said.

Schumer also cautioned on CNN Sunday that he could see a million demonstrators meeting on the mall of House Republicans trying to bottle up or substantially change the Senate's version of the bill, a sign that Democrats hope will be a wedge issue to help them take over the the House 2014.

But Paul doesn't seem to be intimidated.

"It will pass the Senate, but it's dead on arrival in the House," he said. "The House is much closer to me, and I think they think border security has to come first before you get immigration reform."

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.