As we have noted, the Republican Party is currently engaged in a relentless assault on immigrants – in the courts, in Congress, and on the 2016 campaign trail. Every major 2016 Republican presidential candidate has moved further to the right on immigration policy and politics than before. While polling frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson keep providing the most chilling and explicitly anti-immigrant offerings for the nativist wing of the GOP, even supposedly pro-reform candidates like Senator Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich have been caught up in the anti-immigrant undertow and have adopted or “clarified” positions to appeal to the hardliners in the primary.
The latest from Donald Trump and Jeb Bush is just the next reminder of how ugly the campaign trail has gotten. It’s now hard to imagine that the eventual GOP nominee, no matter who it is, will be able to escape the toll on the GOP brand image incurred by the prominent anti-immigrant strain of the primary season.
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump continues to rail against immigrants at every opportunity. Yesterday in Iowa, for example, Trump included this riff when talking about Ford Motor Company planning to build a factory in Mexico (per the Washington Post):
“[T]he way our country is run, if it doesn’t happen to be me that wins, you know what’s going to happen? They’re going to build a plant and illegals are going drive those cars right over the border … And they’ll probably end up stealing the cars.”
Meanwhile, as the Alliance for Citizenship highlights, Dreamer activist Dulce Valencia confronted Jeb Bush after a campaign event at the College of Southern Nevada yesterday. Valencia pressed Bush on why he has backtracked from past support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Bush responded that there is no “consensus” on the question of citizenship despite ample polling proving otherwise. Their exchange is below:
Dulce: I want to know your position about a path to citizenship.
Jeb: You know my position.
Dulce: I’m wondering why is [path to citizenship] okay for your wife but not my parents. Why do you want to just give them “legal status,” what do you mean by that? Why not a path to citizenship?
Jeb: My wife didn’t come here illegally, there’s a difference.
Dulce: What’s the difference you mentioned [citizenship] for Dreamers but how about my parents? Governor?
Jeb: No I gave you my position. We talked about this before. Yes I have. Just did. I believe in a path to legalized status for … because
I don’t think with 11 million people we’ll be able to get the consensus needed.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Instead of working to repair their tarnished image among Latino, APIA, immigrant, and young voters, the 2016 Republican field is doubling down on anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. It’s not just that Donald Trump is running the most explicitly nativist campaign in modern U.S. political history; it’s also that Jeb Bush and the other supposed ‘champions’ of a modernized Republican Party are succumbing to the toxic undertow, instead of showing real leadership on immigration. I’d remind Jeb Bush and the rest of the field that the broader electorate supports a path to citizenship for immigrants without papers. They are disgusted by statements that call hardworking immigrants ‘criminals.’ You may be pandering to a primary audience now, but that faction is increasingly marginal in the general election and in modern campaigns there are no Etch-a-Sketch moments. We will not forget.”