In the eighties the major issue in New York State was the fight to pass a death penalty law. Republicans, and Democrats from outside of New York City versus progressive and minority Democrats. Each year the advocates came closer, finally passed the bill, Governor Cuomo pere, vetoed the bill and both houses of the legislature overrode the veto. A stunning victory for the death penalty advocates.
A few years later an older political tactician bemoaned the override, “It was dumb, we removed our best campaign issue, we bit ourselves in the ass.”
You win elections by identifying your voters, in the example supra, death penalty supporters across party lines.
A substantial chunk of voters believed that a death penalty law would reduce violent crime.
For years in New York City voters believed that “stop and frisk” was an effective crime-stopping police tactic. Under de Blasio the number of “stop and frisk” stops has been drastically reduced and serious crime continues to decrease.
Appealing to emotion is a traditional campaign tactic: emotion tops data.
Immigration is akin to the death penalty and stop and frisk, it is an emotional issue.
Democrats and a handful of Republican spent years working on “comprehensive immigration reform,” and while the attempts came close the attempts were always derailed by Republican leadership – immigration was an excellent campaign issue.
“Illegal immigrants” take “American” jobs, commit violent crimes, rape and murder, might be terrorists, the anti-immigrant sentiment was fed and inflamed.
Why pass immigration reform when you can use the issue to win elections?
On May 25, 2006 the Senate passed with amendments S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, by a vote of 62-36. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Specter (R-PA) on April 7, 2006. The House passed an immigration reform bill, H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 on December 16, 2005 by a vote of 239–182 (see Legislative Bulletin 109-10). The next likely action is a House-Senate Conference.
The House-Senate Conference failed to agree upon a bill.
President Bush’s effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration policy, a cornerstone of his domestic agenda, collapsed in the Senate today, with little hope that it can be revived before Mr. Bush leaves office in January 2009.The bill called for the biggest changes to immigration law in more than 20 years, offering legal status to millions of illegal immigrants while trying to secure the nation’s borders
Mr. Bush placed telephone calls to lawmakers throughout the morning, but members of his party abandoned him in droves, with only 12 of the 49 Senate Republicans sticking by him on the key procedural vote that determined the bill’s fate
President Obama picked up the failed Bush efforts and once again pushed for comprehensive immigration reform.
On June 27, 2013, the Senate took a historic and bipartisan step toward an immigration system that works for all. By an overwhelming margin of 68 to 32 votes, the Senate passed, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. That bill took a comprehensive approach to modernizing the U.S. immigration system, providing a tough but fair pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the country, updating the legal visa system for the 21st century, and making the largest and most expensive investments in border security to date. But the House of Representatives refused it—or any other form of immigration reform—and S. 744 died a slow, painful death in the 113th Congress
See a comparison of the 2006, 2007 and the 2013 bills here: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R42980.pdf
In January, 2012 President Obama took executive action, similar to action taken by Reagan and Bush and promulgated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. Republicans attacked Obama claiming the executive action exceeded the powers of the presidency and the action was unconstitutional; however, they never challenged the action in the courts.
President Trump, while praising the Dreamers, surprised the Republicans, rather then simply revoke the DACA executive order he postponed the action for six months and asked Congress to take undefined actions. Trump punted.
Trump also, shocked Republican leadership by negotiating a deal with Democratic leadership to extend the debt ceiling deadline and pass a clean hurricane relief bill; the Freedom Caucus, fka, the Tea Party, the far right ideologues in the House wanted to hold the debt limit hostage to other legislation, perhaps funding for the Mexico wall or cuts to entitlement programs. The Republican leadership had absolutely no knowledge of the impending deal with the Democrats.
Keep in mind the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate control the flow of legislation, nothing comes to the floor for a vote without the approval of the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate and, in the House, there is an “unwritten rule,” no legislation comes to the floor that requires Democrat votes to pass.
The possible outcomes:
* the Republicans allow a “clean” DACA bill to come to the floor – highly unlikely
* the Republicans allow a “clean” DACA bill to come to the floor – and vote it down pushing the decision back to the White House.- dangerous, might push the president closer to the Democrats.
* the Republicans push the DACA expiration date to the 2018 or 2020 election cycle – keeping the issue alive as a campaign issue for their base – most likely
* A bipartisan effort to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill – with Trump onboard, -possible
Will the DACA issue be more helpful to the Democrats or the Republicans in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles?
With tax reform, infrastructure and more hurricane funding on the agenda DACA will probably be pushed down the road, unless, and a big unless, the Trump, Schumer, Pelosi romance is more than a one-night stand.