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GOP Presidential Field Struggles With Immigration Issue; Self-Defeating Strategy Continues

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rick perryRepublican presidential candidates are again struggling with the immigration issue.  The Republicans’ strategy appears to be: stick to their border security sound bites and avoid the other immigration issues at all costs. Yet such a balancing act remains increasingly tenuous for any of the 2012 candidates – including the newest entry into the field, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX). 

Unless leading Republicans change their anti-immigrant ways, they will have a hard time winning a national election.   

At last Thursday’s FOX News debate, the GOP presidential candidates unsurprisingly got away with dodging a key question on immigration: “as President, what would they do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country today?” 

We heard the usual talking points about border security, but little about what the candidates would do with undocumented immigrants living in this country today.  Republican presidential candidates fail to realize that a hard line and avoiding tough questions won’t win them support from the Latino community.  

As Andres Oppenheimer points out in his column in yesterday’s Miami Herald, even if they avoid saying the words, they still send the message that they are for mass deportation.  Oppenheimer believes the Republicans’ immigration strategy could cost them the election, as the debate cements the GOP’s anti-Latino image among Latino voters.