Immigration Reform Wasn’t the Cause of Cantor’s Loss


June 26, 2014

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his primary election earlier this month – much to everyone’s surprise – claims that immigration reform was dead were all over the airways. Many pundits pointed to the belief that Rep. Cantor’s support of immigration reform was the cause of his loss, and that Republicans would be so afraid of the same fate that none of them would want to touch immigration reform with a 10-foot pole. Thus, the issue of reform, whose fate was always uncertain, was now certain to be dead.
However, several polls that came out after those initial reports have shown that immigration reform was not the cause of Rep. Cantor’s loss. According to Time, a poll from Americans for a Conservative Direction found that only 22% of those who voted for Cantor’s opponent, David Brat, cited immigration as the main reason for their vote. In addition, a poll conducted by Basswood Research found that 69% of Bratt supporters approved a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. Another poll, commissioned by Americans United for Change, found that 72% of voters in Cantor’s district support the immigration legislation being debated in Washington, and 84% of respondents said it was important for the US to fix its immigration system this year.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, who supports comprehensive immigration reform, also handedly won his primary the same day as Cantor’s defeat.

While the Senate passed immigration reform legislation last summer, the House has yet to do so. While it’s unclear whether or not legislation would’ve been taken up by the House even before Rep. Cantor’s loss, what is clear is that House leadership should not use his defeat as an excuse to ignore reform now.  Our broken immigration system leaves millions of immigrant workers without any way to become citizens or even live without fear, regardless of the taxes they pay and their significant contributions to the places where they work and the communities in which they live. Effective and meaningful immigration reform will advance our nation’s economic growth and productivity. Our country desperately needs comprehensive immigration reform, and the numbers show that voters support it.

immigration reform