Today’s piece in the Boston Herald by conservative columnist Linda Chavez is one of several warning bells being rung this week for the GOP if they decide to continue false attacks on and obstruction of the DREAM Act (See also, the Washington Post’s Schumacher-Matos, who begins: “If Senate Republicans kill the Dream Act, I and many millions of Hispanics will take it as a slap in the face.”)
Chavez writes (emphasis added):
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which provides a path to citizenship for those children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, passed the House by 216-198 last week, but may die in the Senate for lack of bipartisan support. [...]
Do Republicans really want to tell young people who’ve lived here most of their lives, who may speak no other language but English and who are even willing to sacrifice themselves on the battlefield: “We don’t want you”?
What are the alternatives – let them continue to live in the shadows or deport them? Not even the most aggressively anti-immigration groups are calling for the latter.
A number of Republicans who previously supported the legislation – including one of its chief authors, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah – have decided it is too risky to vote for it now. But the real risk is to the future of the Republican Party.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called for a “zone between deportation and amnesty” for illegal immigrants, which would allow them to work in the country. Gingrich is a rock-hard conservative, but he recognizes that the hard line that has come to dominate the GOP’s stance on immigration poses problems for the future of the party, and he’s recently launched an outreach to Hispanics. That zone should encompass a path to legalization for the most worthy among illegal immigrants.
The refusal of all but a tiny handful of Republicans to vote for the DREAM Act will become a future nightmare. Hard-line anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric has already cost Republicans at least two U.S. Senate seats, Nevada and Colorado, even in a GOP landslide election. It could well cost Republicans the White House in 2012 – the Democrats are betting on it.
Not to mention, a rock-solid majority of Americans support DREAM and the DREAM Act has been heavily modified to meet Republican requests. Majority Leader Reid even bent over backwards to postpone a Senate vote until after this week’s tax deal, to remove any remaining GOP excuses to block the bill. The moment of truth approaches.