Immigration reform may not help Republicans

There's a school of thought in politics (yes, that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?) that goes like this: Legal U.S. citizens who are Hispanic/Latino really don't want an easier path to citizenship for others. Because either, a., they were born here and they don't care, or b., they struggled to obtain legal citizenship, and will want to pull up the ladder behind them. Both attitudes assume a general selfishness on the part of Latino Americans, an "I've got mine, you go away" mentality.

But wise politicians (again, oxymoronic-sounding) know that Latino citizens care greatly about immigration reform because, even if it isn't about them, specicifically, it is still about them. That's because a lot of the anti-reform rhetoric takes such a bellicose and, too often, racist tone. The GOP did a post-mortem after the last election and decided they needed to attract more Latinos to the fold in order to be competitive at the national level. Some in the leadership are doing what they can, while keeping the xenophobic part of their white base happy. Others, despite their promise to reach out to groups that voted against them in large numbers, are having a hard time appealing to xenophobes and Latinos.

Clarissa Martinez De Castro writes in the Huffington Post that an attack on some Latinos (undocumented) is perceived as an attack on all Latinos: 

In fact, there is already a rich pool of Latino citizens not yet registered, and between now and 2028 nearly 900,000 Latino citizens will turn 18 every year. If the House continues on this path, it will alienate these young people permanently. We believe that the Republican Party still has a chance at redemption with our community, but first they must stop treating us like criminals.

What actions is she referring to? She points out that the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, beyond likely blowing up immigration reform, is behaving shamefully:

Two weeks ago, the House passed an amendment to withhold funding for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary but long-overdue relief to the nation's "DREAMers," young people who were brought to the U.S. through no decision of their own and know no other country as home. The amendment was authored by outspoken anti-immigrant Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) who, among other things, has likened immigrants to breeding dogs.

It is hard to imagine a more gratuitous, petty, and mean-spirited amendment. The program was created a year ago and is self-funded by applicant fees. It is a small, commonsense fix for a group of young people with no other options. Not to mention, it is very popular with most Americans and has near unanimous support among Latinos.

In other words, King-style bullying on immigration like this has been soundly rejected by the Hispanic community, yet here he is as the de facto leader on this issue for his colleagues in the House. Last week, King sent out a couple of tweets saying his office had been "invaded by brazen illegal aliens" and chiding Senators McCain and Schumer for not "guarding" him.

The "invasion" was actually a group of about 20 students dressed in caps and gowns -- brandishing pieces of paper with their career aspirations printed on them -- who went to his office to ask the congressman about his amendment. Yet King could not muster either the courtesy or the decency to explain to these kids why he was so determined to snuff out their dreams.

There are many more GOP members like Steve King. Here's Rep. Louie Gomert, keepin' it classy for his angry tea party followers:

Gohmert said Wednesday morning that some Republicans, such as those in leadership, are “pandering” to Latinos.“Maybe we won’t get the Latino vote initially,” he said in an interview with a Latino news outlet, “but once they examine who really cares … which party … wants you to learn English and be the president of the company and [not] relegated to digging a ditch the rest of your life … that’s us.”

The Speaker of the House has said he will not bring any immigration reform bill to the floor unless it has a majority of Republicans supporting it. If for some reason it passes, miraculously, the damage still may be done, regarding the calcifying of Latino attitudes against the GOP. There may be the attitude of, "yes you passed the bill to get our votes, but it's clear you still hate us."

People don't tend to vote for people who treat them with contempt.

 

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