By Kati Seeman
The character Wimpy from the cartoon Popeye ordered his lunch saying, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” When Tuesday comes around, Wimpy doesn’t pay, though. He already got his hamburger. Comprehensive immigration reform is remarkably similar to going out for burgers: Why satisfy the other side’s interests once you’ve already eaten?
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, painted this analogy during his lecture “The Path to a Politically Stable Immigration Policy.” When one side in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform gets its way today, the odds that it follow through with the other half of the bargain are slim.
With the need for constant re-election campaigning, it is no wonder that conservative Republicans are skeptical about creating a comprehensive immigration plan that puts their interests second. Supporting immigration reform without immediate increased enforcement efforts and heightened border patrol will not sit well with Republican constituencies. The success or failure of any immigration plan will no doubt still be an issue in 2016. There’s no guarantee that those supporting a path to citizenship or those supporting fewer barriers for cheap labor will pay for their burger, leaving conservatives with the bill.
The immigration system as it currently stands is not working; everyone knows that. However, upending the status quo is never easy to do. President Obama set the table with his executive action on immigration, but he didn’t invite everyone to lunch. Each ideology is going to need its burger before a truly bipartisan solution can pass into law. With the new Congress, CIR may not be as filling as some would have hoped as Republicans (with a new majority in the Senate) refuse to allow a classic dine-and-dash.