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On Immigration Reform, Prominent Republicans Speak Up

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But Will House Republicans Step Up?

As House Republicans continue to block immigration reform in Congress, several prominent Republican leaders are speaking up about the policy and political imperative for immigration reform, and are stepping up their criticism of House Republican obstruction:

  • Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA): Former Rep. Davis, a past head of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said yesterday of immigration, “The status quo is entirely unacceptable.  Not doing anything is an option, but it is a very, very bad option. The sooner we tackle this problem, the better.  Politically for Republicans, this is an issue that needs to be resolved…The Senate bill at least was a work product that addressed some of the issues and got the conversation going.  But having this hang over is hurting Republicans electorally.  With a rising legal immigrant population registering and voting, Republicans need to put this issue behind them and get on to other issues.  You have groups that aren’t even looking at the party, even though in many cases they fit very well with Republican culture and economics simply because they view the party as not a welcoming party.”
  • Senator Bob Dole (R-KS): Former Sen. Dole, a past Senate Majority Leader and GOP presidential nominee, is using a barnstorming tour of his home state to highlight how the Republican Party has gone off the rails on immigration and other issues.  As Politico’s Alex Burns reported, Sen. Dole “took aim at his own party, arguing that Republicans need to sew up their internal divisions and learn to ‘give a little to get a lot.’  He expressed dismay at the failure of Congress to pass immigration reform to and said the next GOP presidential nominee must be ‘somebody with a program.’”  Sen. Dole also said that the Republican Party,  “can’t be against everything…We’ve got to have a forward-looking program, whether it’s immigration, or foreign policy, or education.”
  • Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL): Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert appeared at a pro-reform event in Illinois yesterday and said, “There’s a lot of folks that came here that aren’t under documentation and they need to be a part of this nation.  We need to be able to give them legitimacy.”  Last fall, Hastert demolished one of the excuses used to justify Republican inaction – the so-called “Hastert Rule” to only bring legislation to the House floor that has a majority of the majority’s support – by saying, “The Hastert Rule never really existed.  It’s a non-entity as far as I’m concerned…The real Hastert Rule is 218 [votes]…If we had to work with Democrats, we did.”

A new report underscores the political peril facing the GOP.  In a story titled, “Republicans have a major demographic problem. And it’s only going to get worse,” the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza writes, “Republicans have a demographic problem.  And it is going to get way, way worse unless they find a way to improve their numbers among Hispanics.”  Cillizza highlights a study from the non-partisan Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire that, “showcases just how fast the minority population is growing among young people — those under aged 20 — even as growth in that same age group among whites is basically stagnant.”  As the report notes, “In 1990, 32 percent of the population younger than age 20 was minority, increasing to 39 percent in 2000.  By July of 2012, 47 percent of the 82.5 million people  under age 20 in America were from minority populations.”  Cillizza highlights the report’s findings that “it’s not just the raw numbers that should concern Republicans.  It’s where the under 20 minority populations live that could prove politically problematic going forward…the concentration of young minority population in the Southwest and South means that states like Texas and Arizona as well as Georgia and South Carolina — all of which have been conservative redoubts at the presidential level for decades could be in real jeopardy for the party in the medium and long term.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

It’s now or never for the GOP – on immigration reform and on getting right with the changing American electorate.  If they don’t act by the end of June, the President will step in with executive action, Republicans will head into 2016 as the party that blocked immigration reform, and the immigration reform movement will turn its focus on implementing the President’s executive actions and electing a Congress that will enact reform – even if doing so takes more successive election cycles.  Republican inaction is putting the Republican Party’s future at serious risk.  Tick tock.