Recent developments indicate that the schism in the Republican Party over Latino outreach and immigration reform is beginning to widen. While some Republican lawmakers continue to use the immigration issue as a wedge to try to block progress on every major issue the Democratic Congress takes up—such as legislation designed to put Americans back to work—others within the GOP leadership are warning that such a strategy would doom the Party’s chances in a growing number of congressional districts and states, as well as the 2012 Presidential election.

The news that former U.S. House member and anti-immigration zealot J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) is challenging Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in a Republican primary offers a fresh reminder of the GOP’s dangerous schism when it comes to immigration politics.

While anti-immigration ideology is red meat to a contingent of those voting in Republican primaries, such a stance and strategy remains ineffective in a general election and dangerous to the GOP’s larger national ambitions.

In an interview published today in the nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, La Opinión and other ImpreMedia publications, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reasserted her commitment to advancing comprehensive immigration reform in 2010, and expressed continued opposition to immigration raids that tear apart American families.

During the interview, Speaker Pelosi said she “hoped to pass immigration reform this year.”

Roy Beck, the executive director of Numbers USA, the immigration restriction group, has removed his mask and eviscerated his long-standing claim to being a “mainstream” activist who shuns immigrant bashing.

First, he showed up at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville this week. Then, during the nativism-riddled speech by Tom Tancredo, the former Congressman and failed Presidential candidate gave a shout out to Mr. Beck and Numbers USA and encouraged convention participants to attend a workshop to be conducted by them both.

The Latino vote has grown exponentially since 2000, changing the political landscape in more than a dozen states across the country, and is poised to be pivotal yet again in the 2010 cycle. According to experts on the politics of the Latino vote, who gathered on a telephonic press conference today, candidates and parties need to do more than say a few words in Spanish—they need to understand and embrace the policies that motivate and influence Latino voters.

America’s Voice announced today the beginning of an online advertising campaign to encourage Americans to contact Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and demand that he remove his name from controversial immigration resolution H.Res. 1026, the so-called “BRIDGE Resolution.”

Comprehensive immigration reform would grow the economy by ensuring that all workers and employers pay their fair share of taxes and play by the same rules. Reform would raise the wage floor for all workers and end the underground economy where unscrupulous employers take advantage of their workers and undercut honest employers who do the right thing.

The anti-immigrant lobby’s unrealistic agenda of mass deportation would decimate the economic health of our nation and push the underground economy deeper into the shadows.

New revelations in the New York Times today show how U.S. immigration authorities under President Bush colluded with a Mississippi marine oil-rig company to punish workers exercising their labor rights. The article details shocking correspondence between the employer, Signal International, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which advised the company how to privately deport workers who were complaining about mistreatment on the job.

While some pundits are preparing to declare comprehensive immigration reform dead for this year, the fact is that plans to move forward on immigration reform are still very much in motion. Though President Obama’s State of the Union address gave only a brief mention of his support for fixing the broken immigration system – a missed opportunity that disappointed many Latino immigrants and their advocates – Congressional leaders and a prominent White House advisor yesterday reaffirmed that immigration reform is a priority for both Congress and the President.

President Obama was right to focus on the economy and jobs in his State of the Union address tonight, because the economic downturn is a concern of every American. He was also right to talk about immigration reform for a simple reason: immigration reform will make our economy stronger and fairer by lifting wages, reducing the deficit, and creating jobs.