The Math Behind Why The GOP Caved on Amnesty
The Gang of Eight, the bi-partisan group of eight Senators who wrote the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill opposed by the majority of conservatives, envisioned:
1) A citizenship path for undocumented immigrants already in the United States contingent on certain border security and visa tracking improvements. The plan provided for permanent residence for undocumented immigrants only after legal immigrants waiting for a current priority date received their permanent residence status and a different citizenship path for agricultural workers through an agricultural worker program.
2) Business immigration system reforms, focusing on reducing current visa backlogs and fast tracking permanent residence for U.S. university immigrant graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math also known as the STEM fields.
3) An expanded and improved employment verification system for all employers to confirm employee work authorization.
4) Improved work visa options for low-skilled workers including an agricultural worker program.
Politically, amnesty (opposed by most conservatives) can be defined similarly in two ways. Some consider any path to citizenship — or even legal status — a form of amnesty regardless of the conditions imposed because it rewards someone who broke the law by giving them what they want, i.e. the right to reside in the United States. Others focus on “border security” claiming if that was done before any form of legal status is granted, then legalization can follow.
Fast forward 2 years. The only leading GOP presidential candidate who has remained steadfast on denying immigrants outside of the process (IOPs) any path to citizenship is Bobby Jindal who is a very long shot to win. What happened?
There is a very simple set of equations every Republican candidate faces:
High Dollar Donor Support = K * Strength of Support for Amnesty
Moderate Vote Support = Money Spent * Electability Perception
Right Wing Support = K1 * (1 – Strength of Support for Amnesty)
where “Strength of Support for Amnesty” ranges between 0 and 1.
If, as a GOP POTUS candidate, your support for amnesty is at 0, you will have no high dollar donor support. The candidate would have to use small contributions to spend on acquiring moderate support, but would enjoy 100% support from the right wing.
If it’s at 1, the candidate will have full high dollar donor support, lots of money to spend on moderates, but 0% right wing support. Those who vehemently object to amnesty get no high dollar donor support and cannot win a nationwide presidential election without it, but risks alienating the base which threatens to depress turnout. No GOP POTUS candidate can say they’ll “deport the f*ckers ASAP with extreme prejudice” as many in their base want them to.