Graham says immigration bill must pass for GOP to survive, weeks after threatening to kill it

The Republican party’s biggest drama queen, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is changing his tune yet again on immigration reform.


Only a few weeks ago, Graham breathlessly claimed that any effort to include gay binational couples in the immigration bill would cause him to withdraw his support for the legislation, effectively killing it.  So Democrats threw gays under the bus, yet again refusing to include our number one immigration priority in the so-called “comprehensive” immigration reform bill in order to appease Republicans.

Some of us at the time had been arguing that the Republicans were bluffing; that the GOP is desperate to get immigration reform passed in order to weaken the lock the Democratic party has on the Latino vote (a population on the rise in terms of its percentage of the electorate).  There is no way the GOP is going to risk killing immigration reform for anything.  At least not the Senate GOP.

And then yesterday, what happened?  Lindsey Graham pivoted on his stilettos and said I was right.  Graham is now claiming that the immigration bill simply must pass, because if it doesn’t pass, Republicans will lose the presidential election in 2016 and beyond.

“If we don’t pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who we run in 2016,” [Graham] said. “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party.

The only way we can get back in the good graces of the Hispanic community, in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

A demographic death spiral.  Sounds serious.  Sounds like the imminent demise of the Republican party.

So color me confused.  Is the immigration bill so insignificant that Lindsey Graham is going to kill the legislation in order to, among other reasons postulated, convince the Tea Party that he’s not gay?

Or does Lindsey Graham think that the immigration bill is a dagger pointed at the heart of the Republican party, and thus the bill simply must pass for the GOP to survive?

And if the bill must pass for the GOP to survive, does that mean that Lindsey Graham was willing to kill his own party in order to bash the gays as some kind of election-year beard?  Doubtful.

At least now we know the truth: Lindsey Graham has been living a lie.  And sadly, Democrats fell for it.

But the good news is that at least now we know we can put gay couples back in the immigration bill, since Lindsey Graham just admitted that without this immigration bill, the Republican party effectively dies a horrible death.

So I’ll be looking forward to Senators Schumer, Durbin, Feinstein and Franken – the Democratic Senators who publicly threw gays under the bus when the bill was in committee just a few weeks ago – guaranteeing that gay binational couples are added back into the comprehensive immigration reform when it comes to the Senate floor.

We are, after all, going to be saving the Republican party from extinction. Let’s make it worth it.  They would.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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20 Responses to “Graham says immigration bill must pass for GOP to survive, weeks after threatening to kill it”

  1. StopTheLies says:

    And indeed he is absolutely WRONG. THIS is the GOLDEN opportunity for Republicans.

    With Senate Democrats in lock step to betray American workers, Republicans should be pummeling them on their hypocrisy and betrayal for enrichment of their corporate sponsors. Even as our nation faces high and sustained unemployment, falling wages and an abundance of citizens with all skills, education and intelligence for every available job.

    The ONLY Senators who have risen to defend worker interests are:

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
    Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama and
    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont

    NOT a single “Democrat” is willing to speak truth to the power of their corporate sponsors.

  2. Miss Lindsey is indeed a big mess.

  3. Judge2be says:

    DOMA is dead. Sit tight. The Supremes will liberate us. Before June hath sighed its last breath.

  4. BeccaM says:

    This is not a gay-friendly immigration bill. You don’t get to dole out pieces of a cake and, because you did not specifically exclude the gay person sitting at the table, get to announce that it was a super-duper gay cake.

    So it’s only not a gay bill if it said, “No citizenship for gay and lesbian undocumented immigrants”? That’s a ridiculous position.

    In fact, this bill, because it includes draconian new enforcement measures, including much closer tracking of visa violations and tighter restrictions on lengthy stays, will make life even worse for bi-national gay and lesbian couples. The possibility of being caught and deported will be much greater.

    Moreover, this bill isn’t really designed to “help” 11 million people and their families. The GOP wants it in part to pander to the Latino community, because they know without minority support, they’re going to start losing elections big-time. But at the same time, they have to pander to the radical regressive GOP base, so they’ve made the path to citizenship as long, difficult, and punitive as humanly possible. It goes all the way down to the very language they use in describing what the currently undocumented have to pay versus their law-breaking employers: A person seeking citizenship is assessed fines and penalties. Companies that hire undocumented workers or too many H1-Bs? They’re charged fees.

    The real purpose of this ‘reform’ mess isn’t to right a wrong, but to cater to corporate interests. And in this, the GOP and Dems are in lockstep. The bill triples H1-B visas — denying well-paying professional jobs to Americans and putting downward pressure on wages. It effectively nullifies all those ‘Papers Please’ laws states have been passing — which will return all those agricultural workers to the fields, service staff to the hotels and restaurants, and skilled and unskilled labor in all areas.

    As for what the Supreme Court is about to do in its rulings? It is way the hell too early to count those chickens, especially since they’ve given many indications that they’d much rather punt the issue and/or issue extremely narrow rulings.

  5. ralphlaw says:

    This bill as is may help 11M+ people and their families. Probably 10%+ are gay going by widely held statistics.

    But saddenly this crucial bill is too weak to call the Republicans’ bluff.

    That is, just as many Democrats have said, this a great cause but the timing and venue is just not right for the move to succeed. Great battles sometimes require patience.

    Estimates are counting that the senate bill will scrape through with the 60 votes they need, without the marriage amendment. Many votes in the “Yea” column have already pledged to switch to “Nea” if the amendment is included. It’s sad, but that the political environment at this time.

    With the Republican led house, just forget about. Don’t even bother. There is no reasoning with this group at all.

    What’s the difference between the constitution being amended to block Gay marriage and today, when the Supreme Court is about to over turn this law? Lots of activism. But also a few years and a different venue.

    In politics Timing and Venue are crucial to get right.

  6. Naja pallida says:

    As much as I want Republicans to lose the next election, the very concept that any failure of this immigration bill will essentially relegate millions of people to continue living in the shadows, and having their families constantly at risk for being ripped apart, for the next generation… because no politician will want to touch the issue again for the foreseeable future. A bad bill, full of Republican poison pills, could be just as harmful as no bill at all.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    Is sex tourism to the Dominican Republican actually “love”? :)

  8. nicho says:

    I don’t know. If Rush can find love, why couldn’t Miss Lindsey. There has to be someone out there with no self-respect.

  9. karmanot says:

    “it will not be their fault” Except for Senators Schumer, Durbin, Feinstein and Franken. Franken is increasingly being ‘bought,’ Feinstein has been a homophobe her entire life and career, and the first two are so corrupt that they give ‘lie’ a good name.

  10. BeccaM says:

    No reason, except for the Dems’ political homophobia.

  11. BillFromDover says:

    These guys are soooo caught between reality and bigotry.

    Attempt to deal with the political realities of the changing demographics of the population while attempting to placate their foaming-at-the-mouth, batshit-crazy base is more fun than watching a Mitts weather vane in a tornado.

    At this point, it seems that (by not taking a stand on either side) they are simply pissing off everybody with their wishy-washy dithering.

    Keep up the good work, cowards!

  12. Naja pallida says:

    He is right. If Republicans poison the immigration bill, there isn’t much they can do for the next couple of election cycles to recover from it. They will be dooming their great-kinda-brown-hope Marco Rubio to having to explain why he, and his party, want to continue to destroy the lives of millions of immigrants, instead of running for President. There is absolutely no reason why Democrats can’t ask for everything they want in this bill. If it fails, it will not be their fault. And nothing that has been suggested thus far has been even bordering on unreasonable anyway. It is long past time that they stand up for themselves, and for what this country needs.

  13. BeccaM says:

    C’mon, we LGBTs already been thrown under the bus and told to shut up. The Dems won’t take the offered hostages to put our one small measure back into the bill. We do have a few allies in Congress, but the Dem PTBs have already said we’re irrelevant and disposable.

    Because all too many of them don’t want to be on record as voting yea on a ‘gay rights’ measure. Not all or even most, but enough of the Democratic leadership always to take the first off-ramp available. It’s why we don’t have ENDA. Probably why the hate crimes law has virtually never been used to prosecute anti-gay bias crimes (just one exception). And why the WH deliberately stacked the deck against the DADT repeal, and why we’re one GOP President’s executive order away from a reinstatement of the pre-DADT general ban on gays and lesbians serving. (For those who say that Lawrence and other jurisprudence would prevent this, I just have to say that if a WH can find a legal right to spy on its citizens absent probable cause and find legal justification for extrajudicial assassinations with collateral damage, they could just as easily assert C-in-C power based on the UCMJ’s prohibition against sodomy.)

    Time after time, Obama and the DNC leadership said in their pretty speeches that it was wrong to make bi-national gay and lesbian couples choose between family and country, exile or divorce (my words… mostly they just said it was ‘unfair’). They kept insisting there needed to be legislation to fix this injustice. And the first time there was a bill addressing immigration reform, the perfect bill to deal with this particular discriminatory rule, they immediately punt.

    In any case, gay rights issues aside, there are two layers of politics going on here, one of which isn’t being reported at all. The news reports are full of stories like this, how the GOP needs to be seen as not virulently anti-immigrant and anti-Latino, even though those positions are exactly what the GOP radical regressive base demands. And of course the Dems want to polish their reputation in the Latino community because, hey, it’s obvious these minority demographics are important in future election cycles.

    But then there’s the other layer, the one virtually nobody is talking about because few have taken the time to read what’s actually in the immigration bill and why it is both parties seem to be acting as if there’s some degree of urgency in dealing with this now and not so much time for at least another few years of false posturing.

    Ever notice in the last two decades how “free trade” (sic) agreements seem to sail through Congress, despite all the gridlock? Well, despite the austerity fetish, the U.S. economy is recovering. Normally, this is when American workers — including highly trained and educated professionals — start returning to work, and when those already employed begin to see incentives not to change jobs, such as wage and benefits increases. Our corporate lords & masters don’t want that. They want to keep wages depressed and under constant deflationary pressures. And an easy way to do that is to dramatically increase the number of H1-B and agricultural visas.

    Within the text of the bill, only a small portion of it talks about DREAM act provisions and the ‘path to citizenship.’ The ability to actually become a voting citizen are already set to be well beyond a decade in the red-tape pipeline. However, great big blocks of text go into minute detail about worker visa changes that take effect immediately, no waiting. Tripling the H1-B visas. Expanding the Ag visas — and including measures to override those state-level “papers please” laws. Again, this latter is something the GOP base opposes, but which the corporate interests are very much against. They want their cheap farm labor. Moreover, this decade-plus ‘path to citizenship’ means they can keep their vast pool of suddenly legal non-citizen immigrants, without having to worry about those pesky INS raids.

  14. FLL says:

    This makes it painfully obvious that the Republican threat to abandon immigration reform because of protections for same-sex couples was one big bluff. It’s still a long way to the finish line for the immigration reform bill, which will probably take most of this year. It’s time for congressional Democrats and Obama to realize when the Republicans are bluffing. That includes Rubio, who is also bluffing. The Republicans will do anything to prevent the failure of the immigration reform bill, including signing on to protections for same-sex couples. The question is, exactly what same-sex protections will be necessary? We won’t really know until the Supreme Court rules next week.

  15. Bj Lincoln says:

    They might as well put gays on the bill because we are about to get the same freedom other married couples have. The GOP is in a death spiral because their platform is the same discriminating one they ran on last Presidential election. They don’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions on health care and LGBT people should not have any of the same protections or rights as the rest of the country. They don’t have a clue how to talk to anyone of any color or gender except str8, white, Christian males.
    I hope they die off. I have been waiting a long time for them to go where dinosaurs go to die.
    Maybe then we can have a republican party that has better ideas and is willing to work with and not against the government.

  16. cole3244 says:

    can the day be far off when the gop (cons) begin to cannibalize themselves and the rest of us can just sit back and enjoy the show.

  17. Dave of the Jungle says:

    The Republican Party has devolved into a pathological state of its own making. It’s not just about the demographics of the electorate, although, happily, they do seem doomed.

  18. fritzrth says:

    “If we don’t pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who we run in 2016,” …

    That’s almost — almost — a reason to hope the bill dies, but I don’t see the Republicans winning in 2016 anyway, given their front runners.

  19. Freday63 says:

    My guess is Graham needs this bill to pass so he can import his husband…no one here wants him!

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