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More Voices Slam GOP’s Approach to Immigration

by Pili Tobar on 08/28/2012 at 12:54pm

Another day, another group of prominent voices criticizing Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s hardline drift on immigration, and the Party’s subsequent hemorrhaging of Latino support.  As the following excerpts make clear, the consensus of an increasing number of observers is that Republican Party’s immigration strategy is not only bad policy, but bad politics. Here’s the round-up:

The Washington Post editorializes, “The Republican Party’s incoherence on illegal immigration was on vivid display last week in Tampa, where delegates gathered to draft their party’s official platform. The platform amounts to a declaration of war on the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. It embraces laws like those in Arizona and Alabama that are intended to make life so miserable for undocumented workers that they will “self-deport,” in Mitt Romney’s memorable phrase, and it slams the Obama administration for trying to block those measures. The Republican Party would punish cities that look the other way on immigration enforcement and universities that grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, in both cases by withholding federal funds.  In addition, the party of free enterprise and small government would force every employer in the country — in many cases against its will — to electronically verify the immigration status of job applicants. At a time when illegal border-crossing from Mexico is at a 40-year low, the GOP would complete the 2,000-mile border fence, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “What is the biggest danger to this new GOP?…The real threat to a GOP return to power is its failure to reach out to minority voters, especially Hispanics. Even if they win 60% of white voters this year, Republicans won’t retain a governing majority for long unless they find a way to appeal to minority voters who are growing as a share of the electorate.  This means fielding more diverse candidates, which the party is beginning to do. But it also means adjusting its rhetoric and policies on immigration. A cranky, crabbed view of immigration sends a cultural message that the GOP doesn’t welcome minority voters, and it contradicts the themes of optimism and growth that appeal to most voters.”

USA Today writes in an editorial that, “Hispanic voters represent one of the biggest opportunities for the Republican Party in winning the White House. They skew conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. They value hard work and have shown, in the case of former president George W. Bush, a willingness to support Republican candidates.  But today’s GOP is in the clutches of illegal-immigration hawks, the same people who helped torpedo Bush’s efforts at comprehensive reform and who have pushed stringent laws in a number of states under GOP control. Their dominance in the party is hampering one of its best opportunities to expand its base and position itself for the future.

As the Tampa Times reports, Republican strategist Karl Rove told a POLITICO/Tampa Bay Times forum yesterday, “I’m concerned about the Hispanic vote long term…The Republican Party can’t do with a dynamic, growing part of the electorate what it’s done with African-Americans or we might find ourselves at a point where we get 5 percent and we consider ourselves fortunate, where we’re thrilled if we get 10 percent, and we’re ecstatic if we get 13 or 14 percent.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley writes in a column that, “The good news is that the Republican National Committee’s 2012 platform will include language supporting a new guest-worker program for foreign nationals. The bad news is that it will also include gratuitously harsh language on border enforcement. Apparently, some Republicans believe that President Obama’s 35-point lead among Latino voters is too narrow.  Since effectively wrapping up the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney hasn’t had much to say about immigration. But Romney campaign advisers, such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are filling the void… Mr. Romney campaigned recently in New Mexico, a state where Hispanics make up a nation-leading 46% of the population. In 2004 President Bush carried not only New Mexico but other swing states with surging Latino populations such as Colorado and Nevada on his way to winning more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Republicans who think that President Bush’s electoral success with Latinos had nothing to do with his welcoming message are kidding themselves and hurting their party.”

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R) stated of the Republican Party’s immigration stance in an interview with Salon, “It’s anti-immigration. It borders on racist.  Which is especially insane to me because the GOP spent years trying genuinely hard to reach out to Hispanics.  And then they just sort of let the Nativists take over.  I mean, this is something that I witnessed out on the campaign trail for three years, which is that there is a total disconnect between the rhetoric regarding immigration and the reality. And I’m speaking as a border state…They’re pandering to a very small group that is just flaming unfounded fears.”

Ana Navarro, a pro-immigration reform Republican strategist, gave her unvarnished thoughts to Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman  She told Finema “that Mitt Romney’s campaign was in much worse shape with Latinos than McCain was in ’08 – a view that many other Republicans, even some inside the Romney campaign itself, worriedly admit.”  Said Navarro, “Whatever the Romney campaign is doing isn’t visible to the naked eye…They don’t know the community – and what they do know, they don’t seem to like.”

In The New Republic, John Judis writes in a piece entitled “Romney’s Losing Strategy,” that “Republicans should consider not just whether they can win back the presidency in November, but whether they can create a viable majority that can endure past an election cycle.  But they won’t. Mitt Romney and his party are oblivious to their longer term prospects.  They are committed to a strategy that may win this year, but will lead to another Democratic landslide in two or four years… Bush and Rove understood that majority coalitions have never been built on strict consensus. Instead, successful coalitions are heterogeneous…But Romney, perhaps because he is not really a Republican conservative, has sought to be all things to all parts of the Republican base—from the Tea Party opponents of any social spending to the nativists worried about a Mexican takeover of America to religious conservatives wanting to ban all abortions. As a result, Romney has closed off opportunities to pick off parts of the Democratic coalition.”

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