If one believes Republican pundits such as Charles Krauthammer and George Will of the Washington Post, the Republicans are so badly split, and have gone so far off the deep end on "Social Issues", that they have no chance of winning the White House this year. Therefore, we might conclude that, bad enough as immigration policy has become under the Democrats, at least it cannot get any worse.
But think again. This year's election looks set to be the most corrupt, the most dominated by right wing billionaire money, in living memory. If ever there is a rigged election in America, this one could well be it. Add to the Citizens United decision the fact that 31 states have enacted a host of photo ID and other voter suppression laws aimed against minorities, college students and the less affluent, and the Republicans will have a huge advantage. In addition, due to the Republican victories in 2010, they have had a chance to redraw many Congressional districts in their favor.
It will be very hard for President Obama to compete with the Republican money, even though he has now been forced to accept Super-Pac money himself, since the US Supreme Court has changed the rules of the game. Otherwise, he would have in effect already conceded the election. This fall's election may be like no other before it in modern history, and this writer has been following presidential elections quite closely since 1948 (after attending a rally for Harry Truman as a child).
Never before in recent times has one party gone into an election with such a significant structural advantage over the other. This fall's election will be one of billionaire-financed attack ads on a scale never seen before. The fact that the party with the money advantage is also the party with an extremist right wing agenda does not bode well for the future of immigration. Of course, we would like the Obama administration to end the mass deportations, the RFE and denial blizzards, the fishing expeditions and harassment of legal immigrants, and to do more to bring about real immigration reform.
But there is a much bigger threat on the horizon coming from the Republican right - one that could destroy the entire immigration system as we know it and fragment it among the 50 states, each one more hostile to minority immigrants than the next. Anti-immigrant policies at the federal level under a Romney administration (since after Super-Tuesday, he is no longer likely to have any serious opposition for the nomination), could also become much, much worse, especially if someone like Charles Grassley or Lamar Smith becomes the head of DHS or USCIS. While pushing for positive changes within the Obama administration, immigration supporters must make sure that we are not just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
On a related note, it is hard not to be struck by the contrast between the firestorm which greeted Rush Limbaugh's hate remarks against a female law student, or the reaction against Rick Santorum's attacks against women, gays and religious minorities which have virtually ended his campaign, and the almost total silence on the left in the face of the racist, extremist positions on immigration which Willard Romney and almost all the other Republican presidential candidates have adopted.
I am a regular MSNBC watcher, but except for a recent segment on Al Sharpton's show about Romney's shameful pandering to the far right on immigration, following on the heels of a welcome New York Times editorial on the same subject, I have seen almost nothing on that liberal channel about immigration.
Where is Rachel Maddow? Where are Ed Schultz and their other Democratic-leaning commentators? Is the left afraid to touch immigration? Do liberals and moderates think that this is only an issue for Latinos and Asians? If so, immigration supporters could be in for a very big surprise if Romney becomes president.
Both state and federal immigration laws have stiff penalties against someone who "harbors" or "assists" anyone in this country without legal permission. Look for a big increase in both state and federal prosecutions against Americans who try to help their immigrant family members, employees, friends, parishioners (or clients) if the Republicans win the White House.
The time to show the same backbone against the use of anti-immigrant hate in this year's campaign that liberals, moderates in both parties, and even some conservatives have shown against attempts to stir up hate against women, same-sex couples and supporters of freedom of religion is long overdue.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.