Cantor’s Defeat Raises New Questions About How Republicans Handle Immigration

cptlAs the Republicans scramble to find a replacement for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who stepped down on Wednesday from his leadership position, competing political forces within the Republican Party are seeking to fill the leadership void with a new candidate who will define their own brand of Republican conservatism.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s early resignation on Wednesday is expected to ease the House transition and not expose as much of the simmering factions that operate behind the scenes in the Republican Party, vying for control.

“While I intend to serve out my term as a member of Congress from the 7th District of Virginia, effective July 31, I will be stepping down as majority leader,” Cantor said during a press conference on Wednesday.

The House election to replace Cantor’s position as Majority Leader is expected to begin on June 19th.

Political analysts have offered a variety of reasons for Cantor’s surprising political defeat to  tea party candidate David Brat in Virginia’s 7th district.

Two of the main reasons include Cantor’s lack of time spent in his own district as a result of his busy schedule on the national stage promoting a variety of Republican candidates and his more moderate stance about immigration reform which rattled conservatives in his district.

As the demographics in the United States have shifted to include Hispanics and Latinos as a larger percentage of the U.S. population, Republican strategists eyeing the 2016 presidential elections understand that the Republican Party can ill afford to adopt a static policy of perpetual avoidance on immigration reform and never make any compromises with Democrats like many tea party conservatives advocate.

In May President Obama said he would postpone changes to the United States’s deportation policy and not take executive action in anticipation of  the House passing a comprehensive immigration bill before August when Congress has an extended recess.

But after Cantor’s stinging defeat to a lesser known candidate who is staunchly opposed to immigration reform, energizing tea party conservatives, Republicans candidates seeking re-election in November’s midterm election are likely to become more cautious and not risk alienating their conservative base by adopting a moderate position over immigration reform.

Still the recent lurch to the right  in the small, conservative 7th district of Virginia is not meant to be a conclusive test case or a barometer for how voting Republicans across the rest of the country will respond to the thorny topic of immigration reform.

The immigration issue has resurfaced again in the headlines after thousands of children from mostly Central American countries have illegally entered the United States, seeking to flee crime and poverty in their own countries.

Many of these children are attempting to be reunited with their parents who are have already illegally entered the United States.

The surge of children crossing the border has overwhelmed Border Control and depleted budgets.

The Associated Press reports that Border Patrol agents could detain approximately 90,000 children in 2014 trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border which is three times the number of children detained in 2013.

-Johnathan Schweitzer


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