Why Immigration Reform Won't Save the GOP


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The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin has kind words for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s immigration proposal, which would create a path toward legal residence—but not citizenship—for undocumented immigrants:

Why is Rubio having great success so far? I think there are a variety of explanations, only some unique to Rubio. For starters, conservatives are really tired of losing elections; the demographics are compelling and more right-leaning pols and activists are therefore trying to find a solution. Second, Rubio came up with a detailed plan that gives conservatives some comfort in knowing that border issues will come first and there may be a substantial delay between some form of provisional legalization and green-card status or possibly citizenship. This diminishes the concern about encouraging more immigration. Third, this is a good time to tackle the problem since net immigration (thanks to a falling birthrate in Mexico and economic recession) from Mexico is at zero.

For as much as I would like to see a comprehensive and humane fix to our broken immigration system, I think Republicans are vastly overestimating the extent to which this would improve their standing with Latino voters. Latino Decisions held an online seminar on the political calculus of immigration reform. Two things stand out in their analysis. First, if Latinos had voted for Mitt Romney in the proportion they did for George W. Bush, he would be president. At the same time, however, only 31 percent of Latinos say they would be more likely to support Republicans if the GOP took a role in immigration reform—and a lead one at that. For the large majority of Latino voters, there’s not much the GOP can do to earn their support.

Here’s the tough truth: Latinos—like most other minority groups—are more liberal than their white counterparts. The GOP can stem the bleeding with Latinos, and find ways to win Republican-leaning members of the group, but overall, there's no escaping the fact that there's only a small pool of conservative Latinos. What’s more, they’ll only make the difference in a small handful of states. At most, gaining a few percentage points among Latino voters nationwide will keep a few states competitive—Colorado and Florida, in particular. What it won't do is transform the GOP’s electoral position.

Between this and the floated change to how state's allocate their electoral votes, I can’t help but think that Republicans want an easy fix to their electoral woes: Immigration reform, new rules or new rhetoric. But insofar that the GOP has a problem, it’s with their ideas. The party just isn’t responsive to the needs and concerns of working and middle-class Americans. While there is an emerging class of GOP “reformers”—Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan—there’s little sign they understand this.

To wit, Jindal has embarked on a plan to lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor, while Rubio and Ryan remain committed to a low tax, low service of the federal government. And the problem is even worse on foreign policy, where belligerence remains the language of the Republican Party, and few GOP leaders show any sign of remorse for the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The GOP will have to make real, hard changes before the public trusts it to lead again. So far, there’s no indication that Republicans are ready to take that journey.


"Identity" is a psychological imperative for human beings from the earliest periods of our development. We will defend our identities even to our own detriment. On the whole, African Americans and Latinos are more conservative than most caucasians... but they have voted Democrat for the past few decades because that party has seemed to support their identity, if not their economic well being. That can flip in an instance, especially since these two groups are otherwise desperate not to be associated with one another. Just look at the situation in Los Angeles, where Latino gangs are terrorizing African Americans out of traditional neighborhoods. If the Republicans actually nominate a Latino for President, he will immediately flip Latino vote. Don't forget, African Americans once voted overwhelmingly for the party of Lincoln.

no, the problem is the distortion and propaganda promulgated by members of the left-leaning media. that's you, punter. you and ilk have forgotten your proper role, or it was not taught to you, via radical journalism professors. your role is to vet ALL politicians and offer credible, reasoned analysis. it is not to be a one note zealot, a feckless ideological supplicant to one side or the other. but that's what you are. a propagandist, a simple acolyte.

It's not credible analysis to say that the Bush-GOP wars were debacles? That GOP foreign policy is still bellicose? That the demonization of Latinos is unappealing to Latinos? There was nothing in this piece that was inaccurate. What is currently called the conservative movement is anything but conservative. It is reckless and extreme. Certainly the new Ryan plan to balance the budget in 10 years, an impossibility without savaging every federal program from food safety and education to transportation and border safety (let alone Medicare, Medicade, and Social Security) would be anything but conservative. Only in GOP world is it logical to rail and plot against the federal government and scream about freedom and security while working relentlessly to make us less secure and less safe while using the government to tell us who we can marry and how many children we can have. But then, logic and common sense are rare minerals in the land of the Republican party.

Jamelle, all due respect but you are an idiot. You cannot sustain current levels of government spending by taxing more. You need greater revenue through growth and even then the crisis in entitlement spending cannot be ignored forever. And, I'm sorry, but you still want atonement for Republican policies in Iraq and Afghanistan after your guy has continued those same policies the past four years? And, by the way, Romney won the non-black vote, including Latinos and Asian voters, by approximately 15MM votes. The idea that there has been some fatal collapse of conservatism and a massive endorsement of liberalism is absurd.

He won Latinos and Asians when they voted for Obama by over 70 %. You need to leave the Fox news bubble. The air is poisonous in there.

One guy offers $100 free with no strings attached, another offers you $100 but you must pay it back. Who's your daddy??

To suggest that conservatives are not responsive to the needs of the middle class is risible. What the middle class needs is stability, and government policies that encourage, rather than squelch individual initiative and economic growth. The blue model has never EVER lead to anything but misery, poverty, and stagnation for all. THAT is what is uncaring and contemptuous of the middle class. Yet "progressives" continue to ignore the abundant lessons of history in their never ending quest to establish their utopian fantasy totalitarian dreams. "Progressivism" is evil. It is soul destroying, enervating, and breeds populations of petty bastards who will sell out their neighbors for a loaf of fresh bread. If "progressives" think they are doing anyone a favor with policies that inevitably lead to that, then they are deluded or malign. The free market policies that conservatives embrace are the ONLY policies that have ever lifted vast numbers of people from poverty. Without the US as it has been, the world would be a much more dangerous, miserable place.

Rubio has no credibility on immigration issues until he can answer this question: "Will his plan provide the same or equal protections and benefits for all Latinos that Cubans currently enjoy?"

"Latinos—like most other minority groups—are more liberal than their white counterparts" "The party just isn’t responsive to the needs and concerns of working and middle-class Americans" First of all, you can't bemoan the plight of these minority groups living at or below the poverty level and then refer to them as middle class. Secondly, the majority of these "working" minorities pay little or zero taxes. Moreover a lot of them are in line for the earned income credit. So of course they are in support of the party who will support social entitlement programs. One needn't mention the ultimate consequences of the rising deficits as it would apparently fall upon deaf ears.

Yes yes, those nasty Republicans wanting to balance the budget, who realize that placing trillions of debt on the shoulders of the next generation is immoral. But Democrats can't be bothered by such things... They have an opposition party that Dear Leader wants destroyed. Jobs? The debt? The economy? Not on Obama's radar screen...

Do you lock the front door of your house before you leave? Why? What Congress and the President must do, is announce how many immigrants will be welcomed next year, and how to enforce that number

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