Republicans Self-Destruct on Immigration

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Watching Republican politicos self destruct over immigration is becoming my new favorite pastime. Watch them duck, watch them weave and now watch them dig a deeper hole with Latino voters!

Since the ugly, racial profiling bill passed in Arizona last week, Republicans have either openly applauded the immigration legislation or tried to duck it publicly while tacitly approving of it.

Politico wryly notes the various talking points Congressional Republican leaders are trotting out as they try to walk a political tightrope over the Arizona meltdown:

“House Minority Leader John Boehner says it’s a state issue and, well, it has 70 percent support in Arizona. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is “sympathetic.” Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American and rising conservative star, has major “concerns.” Lindsey Graham says it might not be constitutional anyway—and so does former Rep. Tom Tancredo, the right’s loudest critic of illegal immigration. But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), caught between Texas’ large Hispanic population and his job running national Senate campaigns, thinks it’s “probably constitutional.”

No doubt, the Republican Party has seen the same demographic studies as everyone else. They know that America’s future includes an increasing number of Latinos still they’re alienating Latino voters at every turn.  

Any Republican interested in the future of the GOP is no doubt shaking his or her head in grief. Karl Rove, who (as we know) has  devoted most of his life to pushing GOP dominance, said yesterday he regretted the passing of the Arizona legislation.

Touting his new book at a retirement community in Florida, (which also tells us something about the GOP’s future) Rove told his septuagenarian fans:

“I think there is going to be some constitutional problems with the bill,” he said to the standing-room-only crowd at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center. “I wished they hadn’t passed it, in a way.

At the end of the day … I think there are better tools,” he said. “But I understand where it’s coming from.”

Where it’s coming from is an aging, racist reactionary and very vocal Anglo faction of the GOP.  We’ll call them the GCP:  “The Gated Community Party.”

Now, according to the GCP, it’s up to states like Arizona to stem the brown tide of Latinos washing over our country since the feds can’t deal with the issue.

Texas’ very own State Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican from Tomball, says she plans on introducing legislation similar to Arizona’s during the next legislative session. We’re so lucky we’ve got these tough state-elected officials, like Riddle taking charge because those pantywaists in the federal government aren’t up to the task.

Only, the reason immigration hasn’t been dealt with federally is largely because of those same GCP Republicans.

The GCP had eight years in Congress to tackle comprehensive immigration reform.  Even when their own President and Senator John McCain presented legislation, they shot it down. Instead they resorted to building walls and further alienating Latinos by succumbing to racist rhetoric.

We’ll never have the national security the GCP frets and screams about on Fox  news without comprehensive immigration reform. Arizona can check all the papers they want, but it won’t change the poverty in Latin America or the fact that we’ve got a broken immigration system. Republicans need to stop building walls and start dealing with reality.

How can we ever have national security without addressing the estimated 12 million undocumented people we have living in the United States? Or dealing with a broken immigration system and thousands of people needlessly languishing in ICE detention cells when they could be working and providing for their families.

The time is coming soon when even the GCP are going to have to reach across the aisle to Democrats and finally tackle immigration. There are only so many walls to construct and ICE detention cells to build after all.  

Until then, the GOP will just keep digging that hole deeper and deeper.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.