The Democrats’ hopes have been bolstered now that it’s increasingly likely that Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will succeed Cantor as speaker-in-waiting. His two main potential challengers for the post bowed out as support began coalescing behind McCarthy, although a third challenger entered the race Friday. McCarthy’s California district is more than a third Hispanic, and he has been supportive in the past of the idea of changing U.S. immigration laws.
Still, McCarthy’s own inclinations on immigration could prove less than decisive if rank-and-file Republicans decide that after what happened to Cantor, it’s too risky to be perceived as soft on immigration by the tea party and other conservative parts of the Republican base.
But if the summer comes and goes with no action in Congress, Obama will be under more pressure than ever before from immigration advocates to take substantial action to assist immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“The president’s decision could not be harder,” said Gabriella Domenzain, who ran Hispanic media outreach for Obama’s re-election campaign. “Regardless of what he does, he’s going to get flak and it’s not going to be enough.”