Immigration: The GOP’s internal split

Will the GOP shed its “nativist stigma” by embracing immigration reform?

“Immigration reform is coming,” said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post,and this time Republicans need to “get it right.” Still reeling from the November election, in which President Obama won more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, some Senate Republicans led by Florida’s Marco Rubio are proposing legislation that would let the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country gain legal status, but only after new steps are taken to stop others from crossing the border. If a truly effective, Israeli-style fence can be extended along the border, then the party has no humane or politically pragmatic choice but to support Rubio’s proposal. Immigrants come to this country looking for freedom and prosperity through hard work, said Mark Kennedy in Those are core Republican values. If the GOP can shed its “nativist stigma” by embracing immigration reform, it has a chance to become “a governing party” again.

Republicans are on the brink of an epic blunder, said Pat Buchanan in The party’s leaders have convinced themselves that religious, hardworking Hispanics are natural conservatives, but it isn’t true. Hispanics just aren’t “small-government people.” With a majority of their children born out of wedlock into single-parent homes, and millions of them getting food stamps and Medicaid benefits, “why would these folks vote for a Republican Party that promises to downsize the Big Government upon which they depend for sustenance, security, and survival?” If illegals are allowed to become citizens, it will demoralize the Republican base while handing Democrats millions of loyal new voters. “There goes the presidency, forever.”

Republican stereotypes about immigrants are simply wrong, said David Brooks in The New York Times. Solid research shows that immigrants are “30 percent more likely to start new businesses than native-born Americans.” They pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, and by increasing the supply of low-skill labor, they bring down the cost of food, construction, and child care for all of us. Giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship would increase the taxes they pay by $48 billion a year. Given “the overwhelming strength of the evidence,” Republicans have to overcome their fears, and support the Rubio-led proposal. If Congress fails to address immigration reform once again, “then we really are a pathetic basket case of a nation.”

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