Republican immigration reformers with an eye to political reality should begin by appreciating that Latinos are a Democratic constituency. They did not vote for Mitt Romney. They did not vote for John McCain. They did not vote for George W. Bush, and in the election before that they did not vote for George W. Bush again. In 1998, George W. Bush was reelected to the governorship of Texas with 27 percent of the African-American vote — an astonishing number for an unabashed conservative. Bush won 68 percent of the overall vote in that election, carrying 240 out of Texas’s 254 counties. Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Gary Mauro.
And, if we are to take Hispanics at their word, conservative attitudes toward illegal immigration are a minor reason for their voting preferences. While many are in business for themselves, they express hostile attitudes toward free enterprise in polls. They are disproportionately low-income and disproportionately likely to receive some form of government support. More than half of Hispanic births are out of wedlock. Take away the Spanish surname and Latino voters look a great deal like many other Democratic constituencies. Low-income households headed by single mothers and dependent upon some form of welfare are not looking for an excuse to join forces with Paul Ryan and Pat Toomey. Given the growing size of the Hispanic vote, it would help Republicans significantly to lose it by smaller margins than they have recently. But the idea that an amnesty is going to put Latinos squarely in the GOP tent is a fantasy.
It simply hasn't occurred to the NRO folks or the GOP leadership or Republicans in general that comprehensive immigration reform that includes tough border security and a path to citizenship is the correct and humane thing to do. Conservatives are too busy trying to figure out the calculus of pandering, and are having this conversation as loudly as possible, in earshot of Latino voters, Asian voters and you know, human beings with souls.
But AMNESTY, so there's that.
About that word. Call it “regularization,” call it a “path to citizenship,” it amounts to precisely the same thing: a decision to set aside the law and to ignore its violation. And therein lies a problem for so-called comprehensive reform: Normalizing the status of the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country, either in toto or in part, would require the development and application of standards for doing so, whether those are relatively narrow (as in the DREAM Act and similar proposals) or broad. Unless we mean to legalize every illegal in the country — including violent felons, gang members, cartel henchmen, and the like — there will be of necessity a system for sorting them out. It is difficult to believe that the same government that failed to enforce the law in the first place will be very scrupulous about standards as it goes about dealing with the consequences of its own incompetence.
Because as you know, we've only had an immigration problem since January 20, 2009. Guess why you're losing the Latino vote, guys? Maybe you know deciding that Latinos are nothing more than worthless moochers and looters is probably a bad idea, right?
GOP outreach for the win.