Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue in American politics for more than 30 years. There are always the extreme sides – one wants a totally closed border, and the other wants open borders and a come as you are policy. Then there are the tens of millions in the middle, wondering if anyone will ever actually do anything about this issue, good or bad.
Recently, President Obama took one step, by eliminating the so-called Wet Foot Dry Foot rule that applied only to Cuban immigrants. If they were able to reach the country, they could stay, a courtesy denied every other immigrant from every other country in the world. Obama claimed he was trying to level the playing field in an effort to push the country closer to real immigration reform. Many, even many Cuban-American activists, praised the decision, which they saw as a fair and just decision lining up with other U.S. immigration laws. Others were not so happy.
Meanwhile, Obama is on his way out, and President-Elect Trump is ready to take the Oath of Office and bring his planned immigration reform to bear. Not that anyone is too sure what that will look like. While Trump made immigration reform a major part of his campaign narrative, that narrative had a tendency to turn on a dime. Campaign Stump Trump had a hardline approach, but in TV interviews Trump often stepped that back.
But many concerned immigration advocates don’t think Trump has stepped the rhetoric back far enough. According to the Associated Press, advocates are planning a series of major demonstrations the weekend leading up to the inauguration. More than 50 events of various kinds are planned across the country with the intention of proclaiming immigrant rights. Along with those events, many immigrants currently living illegally in this country are planning to make statements in defiance of Trump’s more strident campaign rhetoric. Early reports coming from those camps say they will publicly refuse to leave, no matter what steps Trump takes to enforce or increase existing immigration law.
While some groups simply want a more possible path to citizenship, others are demanding, even more, rights, drawing the ire of opposition forces that formed the core of Trump’s support during the campaign. This latter group is all for kicking the “illegals” out and building the border wall as soon as possible. Meanwhile, most of America is somewhere in the middle. They want reform, but they also want to give families that are already here to be able to stay, with conditions. More than anything else, most American voters just want some action on a wedge issue politicians have been talking about – but never acting on – for most of their lives.
All the sides and groups in the middle want to grab the lion’s share of support for their position, and they are working hard to bring the voters into their tent.