Will GOP Surrender to Immigration Bogeyman?

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: January 6, 2012 3:55 AM
Kenric Ward
While Mitt Romney has enjoyed relatively soft treatment from the mainstream media, a recent front-page article in the Washington Post telegraphed the cheap shots Republicans can expect in the general election.

Alleging that Romney's "harsh rhetoric [against amnesty] is eroding the party's already fragile standing" with Hispanics, the Post story typically blurred the line between legal and illegal immigrants. It's an old media trick to set up a xenophobic straw man and knock him down.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney | Credit: Gage Skidmore - Wikimedia

Yet opinion polls consistently show that a majority of voters support enforcement of immigration laws, and, in many cases, tighter controls. Romney, like most of his fellow Republicans, is very much in the mainstream of public opinion when he opposes "amnesty" schemes that would reward illegal aliens with a path to citizenship.

Waffling on the border has cost Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry among Republican voters. And Jon Huntsman's support of the DREAM Act, which grants in-state college tuition to illegals, hasn't helped his struggling campaign.

A new poll by Transatlantic Trends finds most voters -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- side with the majority position of the GOP presidential field on immigration. And, yes, they view the issues as an economic one. To wit:
  • 53 percent consider immigration more problem than prospect for America.
  • 57 percent say legal and illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans.
  • 53 percent say immigrants drive wages down.
  • 63 percent agree that immigration places a heavy drain on social services.
In questioning the high level of legal immigration, 47 percent of respondents went even further than the GOP field by saying this country has "too many immigrants" -- legal and illegal.

But immigration enthusiasts, playing the race card, aren't about to be dissuaded by the facts, says James Edwards of the Center for Immigration Studies.

"Instigators hope to turn whoever the Republican nominee is into a George W. Bush redux. If successful, the open-borders lobby -- Big Business, Big Labor, Big Religion, and ethnic identity political groups -- wins, no matter which party prevails in November," Edwards predicts.

"Those groups have pre-set their story lines: If Barack Obama wins, the GOP ran an anti-Hispanic campaign. If the GOP candidate wins, Obama lost the Latino vote because he was so 'aggressive' on deportation and failed to deliver mass amnesty. Their conclusion either way is that amnesty and Latino pandering must prevail."

So voters can expect to see more headlines like the one that appeared last month in the National Journal Daily, which trumpeted "The GOP's Immigration Problem."

John McCain

John McCain

Republicans caved to the agitprop in 2008, when they nominated John McCain, co-author of amnesty legislation in the U.S. Senate. But "the maverick's" curtsy to liberalism did little to attract Hispanic votes and gave conservatives even less incentive to support him.

McCain garnered 31 percent of the Latino vote, compared with Bush's 40 percent share in 2004. Smaller overall GOP turnout in 2008 sealed the party's doom.

Marco Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

A better and braver model for Republicans is offered by Sen. Marco Rubio. Opposing all forms of amnesty, the Florida Republican declares that as long as U.S. unemployment remains high, he would not relax immigration restrictions. If the jobless rate declines, he would favor easing immigration laws for highly educated immigrants, political refugees and agricultural workers.

That's the same position articulated by Romney and the majority of the GOP presidential field. This confluence of thought -- along with the fact that Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants, happens to hail from the nation's largest swing state -- fuels speculation that the 40-year-old freshman senator would be the party's best vice presidential choice.

Rubio insists he will not be on the 2012 GOP ticket. Whether he is or not, he's no Hispanic pander-bear. His squabble with Univision over the Spanish-language television network's reportage of his brother-in-law’s criminal past showed the senator's independence from Latino corporate influence.

Mario Lopez, head of the Washington, D.C.-based Hispanic Leadership Fund, expressed "concern about the rhetoric coming out of the GOP field."

"The demographics are changing, and conservatives must acknowledge that," Lopez told Sunshine State News. The Hispanic Leadership Fund's political action committee endorsed McCain in 2008.

Lopez, whose organization promotes "free markets and limited government," said "some feel we should not endorse if Romney is the nominee because of his rhetoric." McCain endorsed Romney this week.

Skeptics of the demographic argument counter that media narratives and opinion polls overrate the clout of Hispanic voters. Some 12 million Latinos in this country are presumably ineligible to vote because of their illegal status, and Hispanic voting rates tend to be lower than average, especially among Democrats.

Jack Oliver, of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, calls a tough stand on immigration "a win-win for the Republicans."

"Governor Rick Scott and some of our congressional candidates demonstrated that the last election,"said Oliver, a member of the party for 35 years. "Getting weak-kneed or trying to ignore the issue [of illegal immigration] will hurt Republicans in November," said Oliver, a member of the party for 35 years.

"Trying to appease open-border Hispanics by being soft on enforcement won't get a significant amount of the Hispanic vote. The majority of Hispanics are working poor and will never support candidates who reduce public benefits any more than poor whites or blacks support Republicans."

Hoping for a fair shake from the Fourth Estate is equally naive, Oliver believes.

Recalling the McCain experience in 2008, he observed, "The media will push for a RINO nominee and then turn on the candidate in the general election."


Contact Kenric Ward at or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (6)

Jeff B. Willis
9:46PM JAN 7TH 2012
Mitt Romney will ultimately pay for his hard line stance on immigration. The Republicans need to take a second look at Mitt. He isn't the most electable option. The establishment is in love with him. Even the normally reliable Bill O'Reilly has concluded that Romney is the Republicans' only option. But he's wrong! Republicans need to look at the candidate who is most appealling to Hispanics. That would easily be Rick Perry. Perry also has a strong following wth Arab Americans. This could make a big difference in Michigan. This is something to deeply consider. Romney is feared as the man who will expedite "mass deportation." Obama will play that continuously in the upcoming election.
Dave Francis
6:16PM JAN 6TH 2012
Which Presidential candidate will stop the illegal immigration, into this sovereign nation?

Investigate what you can do for 22 million jobless American workers and how to contain President Obama from his discretionary means to alter immigration laws. A new amnesty according to the 'Heritage Foundation' would add another $2.6 TRILLION DOLLARS to the financial U.S. Treasury ceiling of $15 TRILLION DOLLARS and rising daily. We must arrest the abuse of the Department of Justice against states, trying to survive, under the welfare bombardment of illegal aliens. Only the TEA PARTY and not the two old, tired established parties will enforce immigration laws. Only the Tea Party will build the real two parallel fences, prosecute city officials compliant with Sanctuary Cities and additionally restrain a federal DREAM bill. Only the TEA PARTY will press for the mandatory ‘Legal Workforce Act,’ E-Verify and secondary the ‘Birthright Citizenship Bill.’ Only the TEA PARTY will cut short any further contempt by this administration for the U.S. Constitution and the undermining of the Congressional voices. Everything you need to know is located at these Non-profit, Pro-Sovereignty organizations as NumbersUSA, American Patrol and the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) websites. The legal website of Judicial Watch will open up your eyes to the corruption hidden within the confines of Washington and the state Capitol hierarchy, who are spending trillions of your dollars with impunity. JOIN YOUR LOCAL TEA PARTY AND CONTACT THE SENATE AND HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND MANDATORY E-VERIFY (H.R. 2885) AND THE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL ( H.R.140) CALL THE WASHINGTON AT 202-224-3121

Joyce Tarnow
12:03PM JAN 6TH 2012
I hope Florida voters are paying attention to a number of our Congressional reps who have not co-sponsored HR-4885 The Legal Workforce Act. Even when some of them campaigned for office stating they would support mandatory E-Verify legislation, like my Rep, Steve Southerland, they have waffled. Vote them out.
11:14AM JAN 6TH 2012
Legal and illegal immigration combined spells the end of the U.S.A. culture and political party....California is simply the first to go the rest of the country within the next generation.....1.5 million uneducated and mostly unskilled legal immigrants dumped on our shore year after year after cannot be assimilated......they will assimilate us .....

I know Jack Oliver......he has seen what has happened in the construction industry over the past decades.....and suffered dramatically economically.....
8:32AM JAN 6TH 2012
"Jack Oliver, of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, calls a tough stand on immigration "a win-win for the Republicans."

It is, because that's one of the issues that got me to cross over. There isn't one issue in America we'll be able to solve if we continue to add to them.
(Remember, for every "hard working" illegal immigrant we grant amnesty to it opens the door for untold numbers of his/her extended family. Imagine the strain to our health care, education, and social systems, not to mention the environment. Or the fact while we'd be importing un or undereducated masses of people we'll still be exporting the jobs that previously allowed them to attain middle class. As well as what already was pointed out- displacing Americans.)
5:37PM JAN 16TH 2012
I agree......and we HAVE TO HAVE LEGAL IMMIGRATION REFORM. Allowing every Cuban to wash up on our shore cash and a green card in a year is outrageous.....

Wf have to change the immigraiton system and reduce those admitted back to pre 1960s levels of 250K of skilled English speaking people..

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