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Anti-Immigrant Comments That Really Offend Us

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milbank and messinaDana Milbank’s Washington Post column caused quite a stir on Twitter yesterday.  Milbank called the GOP’s approach to Latinos a “death wish,” because the Party is alienating the fastest-growing group of voters with its anti-immigrant positioning.  Jim Messina tweeted that the “line of the day” was Milbank’s tongue-in-cheek response to a John McCain statement: “The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.” 

Apparently this ruffled some feathers at the Republican National Committee, which demanded an apology from Messina for his “inflammatory comment.”  Said Alexandra Franceschi, the RNC’s press secretary for Latino press, over Twitter, “@Messina2012 clearly doesn’t understand the diversity of Hispanic community. Hispanics deserve an apology for his inflammatory comment.”

Since the RNC brought it up, we’re happy to provide a list of statements that we find offensive.  Unfortunately for them, they all come from the GOP:

Mitt Romney called the DREAM Act a “handout”: Earlier this year, Romney slammed the door on opportunity for millions of Latino youth by promising he would veto the DREAM Act and referring to the bill as a “handout” on CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.”  For the young Latinos and other immigrant high-achievers who would benefit from the DREAM Act, calling a bill that would simply give them an opportunity to work or join the military a “handout” is a slap in the face.   

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) compared immigrants to livestock: During a speech on the House floor in 2006, Steve King likened immigrants to livestock and suggested implementing an electric border fence to keep them out of the U.S.: “We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”

Herman Cain made a similar statement, later claimed he was joking and then wondered why no one was laughing: Late last year at a Tea Party-sponsored rally in Tennessee, Herman Cain indicated that he would go to great lengths to keep immigrants out of the U.S. by building an electrified border fence.  About the fence, he said, “It will be a 20-foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top…. And I would put those alligators in that moat!”  After his comments received criticism from groups around the country, Cain said “America has got to learn how to take a joke.” 

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said that when it comes to undocumented immigrants, the dead ones can donate their organs to Americans but those who need transplants should get out:  In response to a piece in the New York Times about an undocumented immigrant facing death because he didn’t have money for a kidney transplant, Rohrabacher had this to say: “If they’re dead, I don’t have an objection to their organs being used.  If they’re alive, they shouldn’t be here no matter what.”

A David Vitter (R-LA) campaign ad reached new heights of offensiveness; the state’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce called it “racist”:  While campaigning for re-election in 2010, Vitter ran an ad that showed images of Latino men sneaking through a hole in a fence, celebrating, and receiving welfare checks.  The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana was outraged, calling the ad “abhorrent,” “shocking,” and “racist” and demanding that it be pulled.  See why here.

Now that’s the type of rhetoric that is truly offensive. 

Some conservative faith leaders agree.  Just yesterday conservative Tennessee faith leaders wrote an open letter calling on the GOP’s presidential candidates to refrain from “negative campaign rhetoric” and to “not inject our state with the language of ‘illegals,’ the unworkable ideas of deporting millions of individuals and thereby destroying families, and the heated claims that characterize the undocumented and their children as a class of criminals.” The letter was signed by 100 clergy members.