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On Immigration, Republicans Driven to Extreme

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Far Right Drives GOP to the Far Right 

Washington, DC – As the Tea Party movement increasingly acts as a Party Whip for Republicans, new developments show that this source of pressure is already having consequences for ongoing GOP outreach to Latinos and the prospects for bipartisan immigration reform. As TIME  magazine noted, the halls of Congress could feature “Wanted” signs for “a Republican senator willing to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats and the Administration on a bipartisan bill that’s already half done on immigration reform.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Though many in the GOP point fingers at Democrats for the fact that immigration reform seems stalled, they should look in the mirror.  It’s becoming clearer that the rightward pressure exerted on the Republicans through the Tea Party and anti-immigrant groups is driving the Party to the far right on immigration.  This threatens progress on comprehensive immigration reform, is giving rise to the dangerous and divisive Arizona law that requires police to ask for papers, and has far-reaching implications for the GOP’s ability to win votes from Latinos, the fastest growing group of new voters in the country.”

Among the recent developments:

  • Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT), a supporter of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the past, failed to receive the nomination at the state Party convention, in part because of past attempts by Senator Bennett to reach across the aisle.
  • Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) backtracked on his previous criticism of the Arizona anti-immigration law.  The Miami Herald reported that “after his position stirred a blogospheric storm among Tea Partiers and after a poll found most Florida voters support the law – the conservative website Human Events posted an interview in which Rubio said he would have voted for the amended version.”
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the designated point person in charge of Republican outreach to Hispanics, referring to immigration reform legislation, said, “…I’m certainly not working to help accelerate it.”  
  • Senator John McCain (R-AZ), embroiled in a primary campaign against anti-immigration zealot J.D. Hayworth, continues to distance himself from his past leadership on comprehensive immigration reform.  His campaign’s new ad focuses on border security only – a vacuous position since only comprehensive immigration reform will truly secure the border – and states it’s time to “complete the danged fence.”

 “Republicans have a choice: go right and lose Latinos for a generation, or stand up and solve problems that the public wants addressed,” Sharry said. “These recent developments are not encouraging.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.