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On Immigrants and Immigration Reform, GOP Is Reverting Back to Old Ways

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A year after the RNC autopsy report that encouraged the Republican Party, post-2012 defeat, to pursue messages and policies that attracted more supporters, the GOP is at it again.

For a time last year, it seemed like Republicans were serious about reforming their image with Latino voters and other groups they’d marginalized.  Fourteen Republicans joined with Democrats to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship through the Senate.  But Speaker Boehner and the House GOP have refused to take action, and extremist voices are once again filling the void.  This year alone:

  • Chris Mapp, a Republican Senate candidate from Texas who is trying to primary Sen. John Cornyn has become known for calling immigrants “wetbacks” and claiming the term is as “normal as breathing air in South Texas”.  The primary season in Texas is shaping up to be quite anti-immigrant indeed.
  • Kansas state Rep. Allan Rothlisberg proposed that public schools should keep track of the immigration status of schoolchildren — a disturbing flash back to anti-immigrant state laws like Alabama’s HB 56
  • A group of Georgia state senators have filed a bill to take away driving privileges for DACA-mented DREAMErs who live in the state.  Nearly every state allows DACA-recognized DREAMers to drive, with the notable exception of Jan Brewer’s Arizona.
  • New Mexico’s Gov. Susana Martinez once again tried to push through her campaign to repeal driver’s licenses for immigrants who live in the state
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a bill that would prohibit immigrant students nationwide from paying the in-state tuition rate for college
  • In Arizona, Republican state Rep. Carl Seel wanted to prohibit certain immigrants from using any form of public service, from public roads to public bathrooms to public buses

And those are just the latest offenses unto Latino and immigrant voters.  Let’s not even mention the Virginia state senator calling pregnant women “hosts” or SB 1062, the gay discrimination bill in Arizona.

If Republicans were ever serious about cleaning up their image to attract a broader swath of voters, they’ve utterly failed.  2016 is just around the corner, and their failure to learn from their mistakes — including exhibit A, their failure to pass immigration reform — is sure to doom them once again.