Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Scripps Howard News Service
'The happy and powerful do not go into exile," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the brilliant visitor from France who struggled to understand the dynamic new American nation nearly two centuries ago.
His trip to the United States in the 1830s, and his book, "Democracy in America," speak directly to the historic current reform of immigration.
President Barack Obama has provided a capstone to the successful bipartisan effort in Congress. In a speech in Las Vegas on Tuesday, he praised the cooperative initiative of Senate Democrats and Republicans to update our tangled and disorderly immigration laws, regulations and practices.
In the Senate, Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Charles Schumer of New York are among those spearheading immigration reforms.
The Hispanic population is growing rapidly. While it's heavily Democratic -- giving the Obama-Biden ticket an estimated 71 percent of its votes in 2012 -- it also shows variability.
The GOP's modern record for winning Hispanic votes came in 2004, when the Bush-Cheney ticket secured an estimated 44 percent. The Bush family has sponsored a sustained effort to court this population, beginning at least as early as George H.W. Bush's successful 1988 presidential campaign.
Some Republicans believe the traditional conservative Catholic outlook of many Hispanics provides an opportunity for recruitment, despite current voting trends.
The country's first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, wrote "A Nation of Immigrants" and used this column's opening Tocqueville quote. The book was published posthumously -- shortly after Kennedy's administration had submitted immigration-reform legislation to Congress.
Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, pushed the historic reform legislation through Congress.
Now, Obama and the current Congress have the opportunity to make history, too.