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GOP Problem with Latino Voters a Matter of Substance, Not Tone

America's Voice | Released on 03/30/2012

A range of stories today focus on Republican problems with Latino voters. It appears that across the Party GOP leaders are finally recognizing that courting Latino voters in the fall is threatened by an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino brand that has been cemented by the Republican primary. 

Among the stories include a piece from POLITICO, entitled “GOP Fears Latino Revolt.”  The article quotes extensively from Republican officeholders and strategists, who acknowledge the Party’s troubles with Latino voters.  However, most of the critiques focus more on Republican problems with tone, rather than the extreme policy positions on immigration.  For example, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “You can’t win without doing well among Hispanic voters, and I don’t think it’s any secret that the primary has not been particularly helpful from the standpoint of the tone.”

Even proposed makeovers for Republican immigration policies to improve the Party’s standing with Latinos won’t sufficiently change the GOP’s real immigration problem: its continued embrace of far-right policies crafted and advanced by anti-immigrant zealot Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) on the House Judiciary Committee, extremist organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Romney immigration advisor Kris Kobach. Amazingly, their ideas of driving 11 million immigrants out of the country have become the new standard in the GOP, adopted by the Party’s presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s embrace of “self-deportation.”

Speculation that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) might singlehandedly improve the Republican positioning with Latinos also misses the mark.  Rubio’s latest attempt at changing the tone, a soon-to-be-proposed stripped-down version of the DREAM Act, seemingly would institutionalize a permanent second class of Americans.  For Latino voters looking to leaders in Washington to provide much needed relief to their families and young people, Rubio’s latest gambit will undoubtedly be seen as election year politicking.

Yesterday, in an interview with Fox News’s Juan Williams, Rubio even refused to reject the Romney plan for “self-deportation,” instead suggesting that undocumented immigrants would have apply for a guest worker visa for a set time and then return to their native country. This suggests undocumented immigrants who have been here for a decade or more would have to sign up for a short term work contract before having to leave a country they now call home — a far cry from the path to citizenship supported by President Obama and most Democrats. No wonder polling from Fox News Latino shows Obama beating Romney 70%-14%.  The same poll also found that most Latino voters would not change their vote if Rubio were added to the ticket (and 14% would actually be less likely to vote Republican).  Once again, it’s clear that a politician’s position on the issues matters more to Latinos than his ethnicity.   

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “We’ll know leading Republicans are serious about immigration reform when they stand up to the anti-immigrant hardliners in the Republican Party and use their political capital to deliver concrete legislative relief rather than a cosmetic shift in tone.”

America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.

www.americasvoiceonline.org

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