The already-bitter divide between Republican presidential candidates over immigration is deepening, a struggle that’s going to keep the party in turmoil well into 2016 – and jeopardize its chances of winning the White House next year.
The clash over how to deal with immigrants in the cuntry illegally sparked the ugliest exchanges of Tuesday’s debate, as the two sides showed little taste for even a hint of compromise. They may show agreement on the basic outlines of other core conservative issues, notably tax policy, but the schism on immigration shows no signs of fading.
If anything, it’s deepening. Monday, a federal appeals court ruled against President Barack Obama’s plan that would protect about 5 million people in this country from deportation, many children brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
The administration plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, virtually assuring immigration will remains a pressing issue throughout the campaign year.
For Republicans, that means a prolonged brawl.
Those candidates marshaling voter anger are determined to clamp down on what they see as an uncontrollable flood of undocumented immigrants. Their followers are roughly the same voters who created and energized the tea party movement six years ago and cheer the small but vocal House of Representatives’ Freedom Caucus. They’re the hardcore conservatives who have had enough of compromise.