Hispanics haven't forgotten the Dream Act

The statistics released by the Census Bureau last week demonstrated - unarguably - that America's Hispanic population has grown dramatically, which is very bad news for the GOP.

Hispanics now account for 16 percent of the nations total population, making them the largest minority in America.

And in an astounding finding, almost one quarter of the nations children under 17 are now Latino.

For a Republican strategist, reading these numbers must be like looking down into the Grand Canyon: vertiginous and possibly overwhelming. Having used immigration as a wedge issue for decades, the GOP must be kicking themselves now. Demographics are handy vote getters in the short run, but they can come back to haunt you in the long one.

In 2011 implacable opposition to immigration reform (any reform, anywhere, ever) is practically the first commandment of the Tea Party platform and consequently of mainstream Republicanism and it is already costing them dearly with this demographic.

Just look at where the Hispanic population grew by 100 percent (or more) between 2000 and 2010: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee. The heart of the south isn't looking as reliably red as it did even a decade ago.

For a GOP strategist that's a bit like discovering Democratic land mines planted all over reliably red states. And in California, Florida, New York and Texas - the states with the highest Hispanic populations - Latinos will soon account for 143 electoral votes.

It would help if GOP voters were in a conciliatory mood, but lets face it the Tea Party has managed to turn even Donald Trump into a gay-bashing birther. It will clearly do the same or nearly for every other GOP candidate - who in 2012 will be forced to compete to outdo each other to become the most reactionary candidate running. Recall how the Irish watched, with sorrow and disbelief, as John McCain morphed from immigration reformer to a hardliner as soon as he saw his numbers dip. It will be that way again.

That spells no quarter whatsoever for immigration reform, which in turn means no progress whatsoever for Hispanics.

It would be hard not to notice all the issues ranged against them. Hispanic voters have decried Arizona's draconian immigration laws, which they rightly consider racial profiling. They hear the shocking disrespect for their community regularly voiced on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh's programs. And the nation may have forgotten, but they themselves remember the fate of the Dream Act.

They know how they are talked about and treated. It’s inevitable they will remember that when they vote too.

 

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