If the rumors coming out of Washington, D.C. are accurate, amnesty will die a long, slow death in the House of Representatives. According to Politico, Republican leaders got together yesterday to plan how they would deliver the news to the public. The current thinking among the House resisters was best expressed by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who represents those most adamantly opposed to the legislation. He insisted the Senate plan is about helping “elites who want cheap labor, Democratic power brokers, and those who hire illegal labor.” “It would hurt Republicans, and I don’t think you can make an argument otherwise,” he added.
On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated a point he has made many times before, namely that he has no plans to take up the Senate bill in his chamber. “The House is going to do its own job on developing an immigration bill,” he said. “The American people expect that we’ll have strong border security in place before we begin the process of legalizing and fixing our legal immigration system.”
It is not just the American people in general who want strong border security to be put in place before anything else is passed. A new survey taken by GOP pollster John McLaughlin reveals that a large majority of Hispanic voters believe the border should be 90 percent secure before any legal status is granted to illegal aliens. Registered Hispanic voters backed that proposal by a margin of 60 percent to 34 percent, while Hispanic adults in general backed the proposal by a 60 percent to 32 percent margin. Hispanic voters also opposed granting illegal aliens the ability to obtain federal benefits, including healthcare, while they are going through the process of legalization, and before the 90 percent goal is achieved, by a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent.
There was a divergence between registered and non-registered voters regarding two other issues. Employment verification to determine the status of potential employee was supported by 64 percent of registered voters, compared with just 46 percent of non-registered Hispanics. Increased border security was approved by 55 percent of registered voters, but only 45 percent of non-registered voters.
Yet the most telling part of the poll was a repudiation of the idea “comprehensive immigration reform” would constitute some sort of political redemption for Republicans. A whopping 65 percent believe that the Republican Party discriminates against Latinos and Hispanics, 61 percent believe the Republican party doesn’t care about people like them, and 62 percent believe Republicans are against immigration because they don’t want any more Hispanics in the country.
If there is a bright side, only 29 percent said the would never vote for a Republican, and 46 percent agree with the statement that there are “new forces in the Republican Party like Senator Marco Rubio who are fighting for immigration reform and fair treatment for Latinos.” Yet 39 percent still believe “it is the same old Republican Party and is as prejudiced as always against Latinos.”
Thus, despite all the media, squishy Republican, and Democratic hoopla attempting to convince Republicans that they are “doomed” if they fail to pass this package, their battle to win the hearts and minds of Hispanics is still an uphill battle at best. Furthermore, it may not be a battle worth winning if it alienates their base. As the Huffington Post’s Charles Babington explains, “Republicans will go nowhere if they lose a hard-core conservative every time they pick up a new unaligned voter with a more moderate message.”
Yet more importantly, Republicans have lost sight of the big picture in two ways. First, as journalist Steven Sailer reveals, Census Bureau data, taken after every national election, shows exit polls following the 2012 election overstated the share of the Hispanic vote — just as they have done in every election since 2000. And not just the exit polls. Sailer notes the mainstream media also exaggerated the Hispanic share of the 2012 vote by a factor of almost 20 percent. In fact, the percentage of Latinos casting ballots declined from 49.9 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2012, and the number of Hispanics who claimed to be eligible but didn’t bother to vote jumped from 9.8 million to 12.1 million. Thus, the overall Hispanic vote in 2012 accounted for only 8.4 percent of the total, not the 10 percent as originally reported.
Furthermore, no Republican presidential candidate has won a majority of the Hispanic vote in more than 50 years. George W. Bush reached the highest percentage in that span of time, getting 40 percent in the 2004 election. Even after Ronald Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli bill in 1986, granting unambiguous amnesty to 2.7 million illegal aliens, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote actually declined by from 37 percent to 30 percent in the 1988 election. Yet despite that reality, George H.W. Bush won in a landslide.
In other words, the pernicious notion that the Hispanic vote is critical to Republican success has been grossly exaggerated, a reality made evident by Byron York. York revealed that if Mitt Romney had won a record-shattering 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, he still would have lost the election.
The other part of the big picture Republicans have lost sight of revolves around the idea disseminated by the establishment wing of their own party, which has promoted the idea that Republicans should vote for comprehensive reform because Hispanics are essentially “natural Republicans” who just don’t realize it yet. This is unadulterated nonsense. Hispanics overwhelmingly support ObamaCare by a margin of 62 percent, and big government by a margin of 75 percent, rising to 81 percent among Latino immigrants. Politically speaking, 30 percent of them are self-described liberals, compared to 21 percent of the general population. And, according to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of Hispanics have a negative view of capitalism, higher than white and black Americans.
None of those are remotely “natural Republican” positions.
That doesn’t mean Republicans should write off the Hispanic vote. The same McLaughlin survey mentioned above notes that immigration reform isn’t as important to Hispanics as healthcare, which ranked second, and the economy, which is issue number one. The rapidly unraveling healthcare bill is so corrosive to Democrats that the president has kicked the rule of law to the curb and unilaterally postponed the employer mandate by one year to get through the 2014 election. Republicans should make a pitched effort to offer every ethnic group a viable alternative. As for the economy, the current official unemployment rate for Hispanics is 9.1 percent, compared to 7.6 percent for the nation as a whole. Thus, Republicans must also make the case that legalizing at least an additional 11 million illegal aliens — a number many consider a low estimate — will make it even harder for Hispanic citizens to find jobs.
More importantly, Republicans need to realize that the public in general has no use for a Senate immigration bill that has been revealed as a complete fraud with regard to border control. Virtually every aspect of it can be waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security, absent any repercussions. This reality flies in the face of CNN/ORC international survey that finds 62 percent of Americans believe border security should be the main focus of U.S. immigration policy, compared to just 36 percent who want a so-called pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens to be the foremost priority.
Yet the most likely reason the Senate bill will die in the House can be boiled down to one word: comprehensive. Comprehensive reform, whether it is 2,400 unread pages of comprehensive healthcare reform or 1190 unread pages of comprehensive immigration reform, is riddled with special political deals, exceptions, loopholes, and waivers — all of which can be manipulated with impunity.
Much to their overwhelming dismay, a majority of Americans have discovered the disturbing details of ObamaCare, after it was passed, exactly as Democrats intended. House Republicans have no incentive whatsoever to repeat that folly, given the realities of the Hispanic vote’s current impact, the fact that many of their members represent districts with insignificant levels of Hispanic population, and the possibility that the results of the mid-term election in 2014 may put them in a far better bargaining position than they are in now.
Furthermore, the fact that border control as a stand-alone policy is completely anathema to Democrats should tell them everything they need to know about the pitfalls of comprehensive immigration reform. If enacted now, it will be carried out by a president with no respect for the separation of powers, an Attorney General presiding over the most racially-polarized Justice Department in memory, and a clueless DHS Secretary.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill has “always been an uphill battle.” If House Republicans care about the future of the nation, it should stay that way until a genuinely sensible series of reforms — each standing individually on its own merits — can be enacted.
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