Republican split on immigration deepens

Some Republicans tried to add in more anti-immigrant sentiment into the recent $15 billion jobs bill in Congress by stating that if it passed it would allow employers to hire illegal aliens.

Even when it was pointed out that the language of the bill was exactly similar to one drafted by Republican Senator Orin Hatch the anti immigrant voices would not let up.

That has now drawn a sharp rebuke from Republicans who know that the Latino base of the party is deeply upset at all this tub thumping and in danger of disappearing.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Dan Bartlett, a senior George W. Bush strategist, said "Hispanics are going to be a dominant political force in the state of Texas and around the country for the next 100 years, and the Republican Party's blowing it. There's a real dearth of smart thinking on the Republican side of the aisle."

That Republicans are alienating Latino voters is clear but the fact that some members are insisting that they go even deeper into the demonizing business is beginning to trouble many of the party's most prominent thinkers.

Congressional Quarterly picked up on this growing schism during the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend which they said featured "diametrically opposed themes" on immigration.

Commondreams.org noted that ." On one side, conservative activist Grover Norquist said, "you can't talk to someone from the immigrant community, threaten to deport their relative and then ask them to vote with you because you're pro-life...some conservatives and some Republicans have used harsh and insulting rhetoric that has chased away Hispanic voters unnecessarily," and former Reagan official Linda Chavez noted, "I want to see conservatives triumph in the United States...If you share that view, then we better begin to figure out a way to talk about immigration that does not alienate the fastest-growing demographic in the United States."

 

Commondreams noted that "The other side featured such anti-immigration zealots as former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who has published an anti-immigration book Whatever it Takes, in which he likened Republican support for tough anti-immigrant measures as a way "to stand up for our culture." At CPAC, in remarks at a screening of the film Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration, Hayworth said, "The problem in Washington is that so many people - including my opponent - view this as a political problem to be managed instead of seeing what really is going on...This is an invasion that must be stopped."

 

"No matter the policy issue, a contingent of Republicans remain convinced that raising the specter of illegal immigration is sufficient rationale for opposition and obstinacy," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice. "Unfortunately for the GOP, like its campaign counterpart the immigration wedge issue, the ‘blame the immigrants' approach to legislation is a death knell for attempts to improve outreach to the Latino electorate. The Republican Party needs to recognize that its long-term ambitions will remain elusive unless it improves its stance on immigration and distances itself from its anti-immigration zealots."

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