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In Congress, The Courts, And 2016 Campaign, GOP Cedes Control To Anti-Immigrant Wing Of The Party

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Lynn Tramonte: “Republicans Continue to Shrink From Leadership and Allow The Nativists in the Party to Run Amok”

In Congress, the courts, and the 2016 campaign trail, the Republican Party continues to cede control to the anti-immigrant wing of the Party.  Among the latest reminders:

In Congress, newly-elected Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made clearover the weekend that he is intent to repeat the mistakes of former Speaker John Boehner by ceding his leadership to the anti-immigrant wing of the Party and refusing to move immigration reform forward.  This past weekend, Speaker Ryan appeared on a host of Sunday news talk shows and repeatedly stated his unwillingness to move forward on immigration reform legislation while President Obama is in office, saying: “[Y]ou cannot trust this president … This president tried to write the law himself. . . . Presidents don’t write laws; Congress writes laws.”  Ironically, Ryan’s refusal to take up immigration reform is directly at odds with his own stated goals of encouraging the Republican Party to develop and implement its own policy vision – as Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday”: “We’ve been too timid on policy; we’ve been too timid on vision — we have none.”  Of course, Ryan’s excuses are transparent and ludicrous: Republicans ‘can’t trust’ President Obama despite the fact that this administration has deported more people than any other; and President Obama’s executive actions only came after Speaker Boehner ceded control to the Steve King wing of the House and refused to hold a vote on immigration reform.

In the courtsthe Republican strategy to slow-walk the legal challengeto the Obama Administration’s deferred action policies threatens to keep millions of immigrants in limbo past President Obama’s time in office.  As numerous observers are now highlighting, the court delays are part of a partisan legal strategydesigned to keep these programs from taking effect for as long as possible – playing politics with people’s lives.  As the New York Times editorialized over the weekend about the GOP’s legal strategy and implications:

“[The legal delay] leaves four million lives stuck where they were when Mr. Obama first began promising to fix immigration.  Make that 11 million, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in limbo, with no path to get right with the law, plus millions more of their citizen children.  Americans should not forget the party and the people who brought us to this grim pass … The real solutions to the immigration crisis are well known.  Given the Republican success at strangling any and all of them, it seems likely now that it will be up to the next president to fight for sensible reform.  Or — if he or she is one of the Republicans now engaged in that party’s nasty, nativist campaign for the nomination — not.”

On the 2016 campaign trail, the Republican contenders seem intent to entrench their anti-immigrant reputation and make their existing problems with Latino voters worse by the day.  The latest example is the GOP’s decision to cancel their scheduled Telemundo debate – their sole debate on a Spanish-language network.  And in a microcosm of the GOP’s larger leadership vacuum and Latino problem, the Trump campaign’s threatened boycottif Telemundo remained a debate host outweighed the Bush campaign’s attempts to maintain a Spanish-language debate.  As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlights in analysis titled, “Republicans Shoot Themselves in Foot with Latinos, Again,” Democrats are responding to the news by “moving into the breach created by the RNC’s decision” and looking to schedule a second Spanish-language debate for the Democratic 2016 contenders (joining a previously-scheduled forum on Univision).  These debate developments pile on to the broader anti-immigrant dynamic on display in the Republican primary.  In addition to the explicitly anti-Latino and anti-immigrant candidacy of Donald Trump, the rest of the 2016 field is moving right and adopting or clarifying immigration positionsdesigned to appeal to the hardliners in the primary season at the expense of the majority of the general electorate (and alienating and energizing Latino and immigrant voters in the process).  Needless to say, the GOP primary season is harming any chance the eventual nominee will reach the Latino vote threshold of 42% – 47% the Party will need to win the popular vote in the 2016 general election.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Despite the potential cost in 2016, on immigration, Republicans continue to shrink from leadership and allow the nativists in the Party to run amok.  Yes, this is terrible and short-sighted politics for a Party that should have learned these lessons after its 2012 electoral disaster.  But more importantly, it is devastating for millions of American families for whom immigration is much more than a campaign issue—it’s about their lives.  It’s personal.”