Radical Immigration Agenda Risks GOP Standing with Latino Voters for a Generation or More
Washington — On a press call today, a leading immigration reform advocate, a leading political analyst and a leading researcher who studies the radical right addressed the emerging House Republican strategy on immigration in the 112th Congress – and the risks it poses for the GOP’s political prospects, the U.S. economy and the state of race relations in local communities divided by bitter immigration debates.
After two hearings in the House Immigration Subcommittee, the House Republican immigration strategy for this Congress is becoming clear: disguise their radical plan for mass deportation as the more pleasant-sounding “attrition through enforcement.” America’s Voice Education Fund released a new report today that documents the real intentions of this strategy: to drive 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the country, despite the cost to American taxpayers, the U.S. agriculture industry, and our country’s reputation.
However the strategy is framed, it is likely to have far-reaching political costs for the Republican Party in 2012 and beyond. Unfortunately for the GOP, Latinos are not easily fooled. In the latest impreMedia and Latino Decisions polling, 47% of Latino voters rank immigration as their top issue, and only 9% said they will vote for Obama’s Republican challenger in 2012 (8% said they might). As Pilar Marrero put it in La Opinion: “This is one of the lowest levels of support obtained by the Republicans in recent years, and far less than the 40% a GOP candidate would need to make a difference in key states to become president.”
Those paying closest attention to the House Republican hearings are consumers of Spanish language media. 61% of the stories covering the hearing, chaired by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) with the assistance of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Steve King (R-IA), ran in Spanish media. All told, nearly 3 million Latinos have read or listened to stories about these two hearings in Spanish. This, combined with the wall to wall coverage of the DREAM Act debate in 2010 and the live broadcast of the Senate vote on both major Spanish language TV networks, should worry GOP political operatives looking ahead to 2012 when Latino voters could determine who occupies the White House and who wins a growing number of Senate and House races.
On today’s press call, the following key points were made:
“The extremism of the anti-immigrant movement is now finding its radical ideas advanced in the House of Representatives and in local and state battles across the country, said Mark Potok, Director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “This movement, organized by the controversial John Tanton and spearheaded by groups such as FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies and Numbers USA, are today’s Know Nothings. They want local, state and federal measures that expel immigrants here and stop immigrants from coming in the future. Their radicalism causes huge upheaval in local communities that take their recommendations to heart, and are exacerbating racial tensions across the country.”
Fernand Amandi, Managing Partner of Bendixen & Amandi International, added “The policy of mass deportation is a strategy that runs the political risk of being mass insanity for Republicans. Latinos are poised to represent more than 10 million voters in 2012 and will no doubt play a major role in the upcoming Presidential election. By the middle of this century Latinos will represent 25% of the population. As long as the Republican Party’s rhetoric and policies continue to be as extreme and harsh as they have been, you’ll see more and more Latinos leave the GOP not just in 2012, but for a lifetime.”
“The Republican Party is being watched with great interest by the Latino community,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “Simply put, if the GOP wants to make a real effort at courting Latino voters in 2012, it must stop pushing policies designed to remove their family members, neighbors, coworkers, and friends from the country. But with few adults in the party willing to stand up to the hard liners in the House of Representative, they will brand the party as the party of mass deportation until they do.”