Following the 2008 elections, when Latino turnout levels and support for Democratic candidates reached historic highs, notable Republican strategists and politicians such as John McCain and Karl Rove stated that Republicans must change their approach to immigration policy in order to rehabilitate their image among Latino voters. However, anti-immigrant leaders have crafted an alternate view of reality that they are pitching to the Republican Party, claiming that continuing to embrace harsh, anti-immigration stances is in fact a winning political strategy. A collection of leading immigration and political analysts gathered today to discuss what the 2008 elections mean for the Republican Party’s future outlook on immigration reform, and to debunk the claims peddled by extreme anti-immigration organizations about the politics of immigration.
Simon Rosenberg, President and founder of the progressive think tank NDN said that “The right is using the same old playbook it has been using for decades, but the game has changed. If they continue applying their anachronistic ‘Southern Strategy’ brand of racial politics in the new much more tolerant age of Obama, they run the risk of being a minority party for decades to come.”
America’s Majority, a right of center group, has recently released a new study on how immigration played during the 2008 elections. Its conclusions, in line with analysis at http://www.immigration08.com/, demonstrate that the Republican rhetoric around immigration threatens to cause serious harm to the Republican brand going forward.
“Scapegoating immigrants and pandering to the conservative fringe has been political suicide for those who embrace it,” added Clarissa Martinez, Director of Immigration and National Campaigns at NCLR. “While Hispanics care about the same things that voters do everywhere: good healthcare, quality education, and a strong economy, immigration has become a watershed issue for our community. To suggest otherwise ignores the results of the past two elections and understates the Latino reaction to the vitriol surrounding the immigration debate.”
Joining the press call was Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who shared her research about the organizations and panelists planning an anti-immigration event at the National Press Club tomorrow. The Thursday will feature the virulently anti-immigration views of political commentators Bay Buchanan and James Pinkerton, and extremists Peter Brimelow and Marcus Epstein. You can find more info at www.americasvoiceonline.org/GOPwedge.
“This is another example of how white nationalist propaganda is being pushed into the mainstream,” said Beirich. “At the end of the day, this isn’t about politics at all. It’s about advancing a strategy that plays on the racial fears of many white Americans.”
Still, many Republicans in Congress continue to politicize the immigration issue rather than working with the Democrats to solve some of the nation’s toughest problems; witness the current debates over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and economic stimulus package in Congress.
“The anti-immigrant right seems determined to turn the GOP into the incredible shrinking Party,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “At a time when most Americans want desperately to come together across racial, ethnic, and partisan divides to move America forward again, they are bent on fanning tensions, fueling fears, and peddling bad political strategy.”
For a fact sheet on the organizations and panelists featured at the Thursday Press Club event, and analysis of the 2008 elections and what it means for the future of immigration politics, please visit:
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.