How a Donald Trump rout could lead to immigration reform in 2017

Could Hillary Clinton actually pass immigration reform with congressional Republicans? It's not as crazy as it sounds.

Donald Trump could spark immigration policy change.
(Image credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

If you follow the issue of immigration reform, you haven't had much reason to feel optimistic lately. After the bill written by the "Gang of 8" group of senators failed in 2013 — it passed the Senate, then died in the House — hopes of a bipartisan solution to the immigration problem quickly faded. Republicans realized that although passing comprehensive reform was essential to improving their image among Latino voters, the people who already supported them didn't want to see any legislation on immigration that you'd describe with any word other than "crackdown." Then came the presidential campaign, with a predictable contest to see who could offer the harshest rhetoric on immigration, a contest Donald Trump won running away.

But now there are some in Congress who think that after years of frustration, we might actually get a reform of our immigration laws and a solution to the problem of the undocumented immigrants now living in the United States. Last week Politico reported that members of the Senate are suddenly optimistic that 2017 could be the year it finally happens. "Several influential lawmakers see another opening for immigration reform in 2017, especially if Hillary Clinton wins and the GOP takes another hit among Latinos," they write. "Mitt Romney was hammered for his 'self-deportation' rhetoric four years ago. But that pales in comparison to Donald Trump's vow to remove 11 million immigrants here illegally and calling Mexicans who cross the border illegally 'rapists' and 'murderers.'"

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Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a senior writer with The American Prospect magazine and a blogger for The Washington Post. His writing has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and web sites, and he is the author or co-author of four books on media and politics.