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As a Party that Likes to Talk About Faith, Shouldn’t the GOP Heed the Pope’s Call for Compassion Towards Immigrants?

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And as a party that likes power, shouldn’t the GOP halt their sprint to the far right on immigration?

Yesterday Pope Francis celebrated mass at the U.S.-Mexican border, calling for compassion and human decency for migrants and asylum seekers.  Here are brief excerpts from his moving homily:

Here in Ciudad Juárez, as in other border areas, there are thousands of immigrants from Central America and other countries, not forgetting the many Mexicans who also seek to pass over “to the other side.” Each step, a journey laden with grave injustices: the enslaved, the imprisoned and extorted; so many of these brothers and sisters of ours are the consequence of a trade in human beings.

We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis which in recent years has meant the migration of thousands of people, whether by train or highway or on foot, crossing hundreds of kilometers through mountains, deserts and inhospitable zones. The human tragedy that is forced migration is a global phenomenon today. This crisis, which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families…

Meanwhile, GOP contenders fought with each other over who is the most strident in their demonization of immigrants and opposition to sensible reforms.  And as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are finding out, it’s difficult to out-tough Donald Trump.  The GOP’s leading candidate accused the Pope of being a political pawn.

For a party that relies so heavily on a platform of faith and values, the contrast between the humanization of immigrants by one of the world’s leading religious figures and the demonization of immigrants by GOP candidates is a chasm of epic proportions.  An additional example of this disconnect is Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who filed the lawsuit currently pending at the Supreme Court that is blocking relief for millions of immigrant families. He’s always quick to launch political attacks against immigrants and refugees.  Yesterday, he failed to even acknowledge the Pope’s mass at the border.

While doubling down on hardline immigration policies may seem attractive to candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz during the primary season, there is growing evidence that these positions will come back to bite them in the general election.  A recent City University of New York/CNN en Español study asserts that Latinos, the nation’s largest minority, are poised to determine the next president. According to the study, and contrary to what most Republican candidates may expect, the upcoming election is likely to boil down to the extent to which Latino voters can flex their muscles in nine states: Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio. It is no longer just in states with high populations of Latinos, but also in important swing states like Virginia and Ohio, where Latino voters will play a key role in selecting the next president. Given Mitt Romney’s stinging 2012 defeat—and his dismal 23% support among Latino voters— the Republican party’s continued attacks on immigrants are likely to be devastating to their general election chances.

Meanwhile, en route back to Rome the Pope was asked about the Donald Trump’s insistence on building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and rounding up 11 million undocumented immigrants for deportation.  His response?  “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”