What The Amnesty And Open Borders Crowd Needs To Understand About The GOP And Illegal Immigration

by John Hawkins | October 3, 2007 6:18 am

Over at the Corner, Larry Kudlow[1] had this to say about illegal immigration,

Meanwhile, Rich Nadler’s WSJ op-ed explains why a deportation, criminalization, and “enforcement first” policy is a huge electoral loser for the GOP. I mentioned this last week. Why can’t the message on immigration be a balanced one? Border security plus earned-legalization — as well as English-only in the schools? If the Republicans drop New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and maybe even Arizona, they will get creamed next year.

Plunging GOP hopes for the Hispanic vote? Republicans losing their grip on the business vote? This is very pessimistic stuff. Sure, these problems can be turned around –all of this is salvageable. But the GOP needs to make the case.

Despite being soundly walloped in Congress and the court of public opinion, the amnesty and open borders crowd isn’t giving up on comprehensive immigration reform. However, they need to come to grips with some very basic facts…

#1) Being tough on illegal immigration has become every bit as much of a core value for Republicans as being pro-life and anti-gun control.

That doesn’t mean every Republican has to have a security first position on illegal immigration to politically survive, just as every Republican doesn’t have to be pro-life to make it, but being pro-comprehensive illegal immigration is politically dangerous for Republicans now.

In other words, for most Republicans, supporting amnesty means potential primary challenges, plunging poll numbers, and attacks from members of the new media who should be their biggest supporters.

#2) There is very little evidence that the GOP’s position on illegal immigration has significantly hurt them with Hispanics (other than in a handful of select districts) or that supporting comprehensive illegal immigration would boost the GOP with Hispanics.

The problem the GOP has with Hispanics right now isn’t much different than we’ve had with almost every other demographic group: in other words, there was a big dip from 2004 to 2006 in the GOP’s poll numbers with Hispanics because there was a big dip in our numbers with almost every demographic group.

#3) Hispanics make up roughly 14% of the population. How much sense does it make to support a policy that is wildly unpopular with 86% of the American people to curry favor with 14% of the population that may or more likely, may not give us a lot of credit for our position?

Numbers wise, comprehensive immigration is without question a huge loser for the GOP. We make 12-20 million people who will vote against us at least 2 to 1 into citizens, enrage the conservative base, turn-off a majority of 250 million Americans in return for what — getting 2 or 3 percent more of the Hispanic vote, at best, than we got in 2006? That’s making an enormous sacrifice for a very small upside.

Bonus #4) Are “Republicans losing their grip on the business vote?” Well, sort of — businessmen tend to support the party in power because their contributions, AKA legalized bribe money, help keep the pols off their backs.

Republicans are a much more friendly party to business than Democrats, but as long as the Democrats are in power, businesses are going to suck up to them.

Bonus #5) “Why can’t the message on immigration be a balanced one? Border security plus earned-legalization — as well as English-only in the schools?” Why? Because it has been proven without a shadow of a doubt that if you pass security measures and an amnesty at the same time, you get the amnesty, but you don’t get the security.

That’s because the Chamber of Commerce crowd, which includes guys like Larry Kudlow, methodically work to kill any and all security measures that may cut into the supply of cheap labor for American business.

Just to give you a perfect example, via Mickey Kaus[2] comes this story,

A federal judge has blocked the government from sending out letters to employers whose workers whose Social Security numbers don’t match their names. … Some of the same employer groups (e.g. Chamber of Commerce) who backed Bush’s ‘amnesty + enforcement’ immigration compromise are among those suing to block the ‘enforcement’ part. Even if they didn’t, the ACLU would do the job for them. The yahoos were right to demand that any enforcement measures actually survive this interest-group litigation assault before any legalization/amnesty even gets considered.

Given all this, the only way to move forward that makes sense is for the GOP to rally around a security-first position on illegal immigration. Build the wall. Get the border patrol up to full strength. Cut off the jobs magnet. Put an end to anchor babies. Get exit visas in place. Do all the things that need to be done to put the American people’s minds at ease about this issue and then when that’s complete, a compromise on the more controversial and unpopular parts of immigration reform may be possible.

  1. Larry Kudlow: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDFmMjE4MDAzZmE1YmMxZDJiYTk2ZGZlNmY4MzkxYTA=
  2. Mickey Kaus: http://www.slate.com/id/2175110

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