GOP Gambling On Hard-Line Immigration Stance; Dems Need to Deliver on CIR

For now, GOP strategists seem content to ride the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment emanating from the right fringes of that party, with prominent national Republicans at pains to show their border-tightening, ID-checking credentials at every turn. At the same time, many in the party are worrying openly that the GOP has become captive to the anti-immigrant wing, which will drive Latino voters into the waiting arms of Democrats, where they could stay for decades to come.

The GOP may well have grounds for hand wringing. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a recent survey shows Latino voters are very concerned about immigration issues, and want a path to citizenship to be a high priority. (See Survey Says Immigration Will Get Latinos to Vote, by Aleksa Costa, Hearst Washington Bureau, 21.Jul.2010.) According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The poll estimated that more than 61 percent of Latino registered voters, or 6.6 million, will ‘definitely’ vote in the November midterm elections, up from 1.5 million from 2006.”

It may only get scarier from there, from the GOP perspective. As conservative commentator Brandon Greife observed on the U.S. News and World Report WebSite, “Minority voters, led by Hispanics, will represent the majority of voters by 2050. There is simply no way a political party will remain viable without tapping into the Hispanic vote.” (See How Republicans Should Rethink Immigration Reform, by Brandon Greife, U.S. News and World Report, 19.Jul.2010.) Conservatives need to reframe the immigration debate as a pro-growth, pro-jobs issue, and back off from anti-immigrant stereotypes that only serve to alienate Latino voters, Greife argues. No argument here.

Meanwhile, in the situation rooms of liberal Washington, Democrats are wincing at the prospect of losing votes on the Obama administration’s challenge to Arizona’s inexplicably popular anti-immigrant law. According to Michael D. Shear of the Washington Post, however, Democrats who take the long view are considerably less worried about this, because their support for immigrant-friendly policies will ingratiate them with a growing, increasingly influential bloc of the electorate: Latino voters. (See Republican Immigration Position Likely to Alienate Latinos, Democrats Say, by Michael D. Shear, Washington Post, 20.Jul.2010.) Democrats should not rest too easily, either, Shear argues, citing evidence that Latinos will need to see concrete results on immigration reform, as well as the economy, if Democrats hope to keep their support.

If, as some have suggested, both parties are making political hay from the immigration issue in the short term, one hopes they will not stake their future – and ours – on such a perishable commodity. It’s in the long-term interests of both parties – and of our country as a whole – to get down to business on Comprehensive Immigration Reform at the earliest possible opportunity.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.