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Sen. Ensign and GOP Embrace Hispanics By Demonizing Their Kids

by Frank Sharry on 01/15/2009 at 8:06pm

Potential SCHIP Baby Well, he was definitely with
us
… before he was against
us
.

Just last week, The Hill quoted Senator Ensign (R-Nev.):

“Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who last year oversaw the Senate Republican campaign committee, said Republicans hashed out the need to reverse their slide in support among Hispanics. ‘It was discussed big time,’ said Ensign. “We have to reach out to Hispanics. We need to go on Hispanic media much more.’”

We were impressed with this change of heart. Especially given the Senator’s blatant efforts, as head of the  Senate Republican campaign committee, to forge GOP victories on the backs of ugly anti-immigrant campaign slogans. Despite the spectacular failure of this strategy in 2006, the good Senator tried again in 2008-and lost big.

Well, today marked the beginning of the Senate SCHIP
debate, where lawmakers decided whether to include qualified legal immigrant kids for medical care under the popular legislation. Led by Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Senate Republicans have proven yet again that their addiction to wedge politics reigns supreme.

Rather than lend a helping hand to children in need, check out this exchange between SCHIP hero Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Ensign, via the AP:

“I believe no lawfully present child in this country should be required to wait
five years before they get health care,” Rockefeller said.

But Republicans said that extending health coverage to newly arrived immigrants would encourage people to come to the United States for its government benefits.

“We are giving more incentives to folks to come to the United States not just to participate in the American dream, but to get on the government dole,” said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

“That’s a gloomy way to look at human nature,” Rockefeller said.

Senator Ensign, accusing hardworking immigrants whose children qualify for needed health care of coming to this country “to go on the government dole” is a slap in the face. This is yet another piece of evidence that many Republicans seem to have learned nothing from the stunning failure of immigration as a wedge issue in the last election. Even the ones who claimed to want to “reach out to Hispanics” just can’t seem to break the habit of immigrant-bashing.

Here’s a tip for Senator Ensign when he goes on his Hispanic
outreach tour: you might want to start with not demonizing their children.

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