Andrew Thomas: “Me Too” Amnesty and the Hispanic Vote

A m e r i c a n  P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N  S E N S E , in Arizona

Thursday, April 4, 2013

by Andrew Thomas

 

It was, if nothing else, a fitting metaphor for the size and nature of the work before them. On March 27, 2013, four members of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of U.S. senators who have banded together to seek immigration reform, toured the Arizona-Mexico border. It was what Politico termed their “spring break” trip: Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, back in their home state of Arizona, hosting two fellow members of the Gang of Eight, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

“In the last several years we have made improvements on the border,” McCain told the press later. The senators spoke of the need for more technology on the border, though they declined to say what future border security measures would be installed as part of their legislation, which was still being negotiated.
As they flew over the border near Nogales, a city that straddles both sides of the international border, they saw something that captured the magnitude of the problem. They saw a woman climb the border fence successfully. Senator McCain tweeted the event and informed the public that the Border Patrol later apprehended her.
Even as such events remind the nation of the severity of the situation, the senators remained confident a deal can be struck for new immigration legislation. One of the few known and certain components of the legislation being drafted is amnesty. The gang has agreed in advance the bill would grant probationary legal status to all illegal immigrants immediately-meaning they can remain in the country legally.
Yet as Republican establishment leaders treat this enterprise as the political salvation of the Grand Old Party, some observers are starting to question the very premise of the efforts. After all, if the political goal, accepted at its practical core, is to secure more Hispanic votes for Republicans, is this legislation truly the path to such success?
The Myth of the Romney Debacle

When we drill down below the conventional wisdom, and in particular when we examine hard polling data from Hispanic Americans, we find things are not as we have been told. The Republican Party’s challenges with Hispanics are of long standing and seemingly not connected to illegal immigration, but instead involve broader issues with the party’s platform and brand.
Consider first the much-discussed exit polls showing low Hispanic support for Mitt Romney in last year’s election. The results of a Fox News exit poll were typical. It found that 71 percent of Hispanics voted for President Obama and 27 percent for Mitt Romney. A Pew Research analysis of multiple exit polls confirmed this margin.
But grand political lessons should not be drawn from a single election. Here, we find Pew’s data much more illuminating, for they compared Romney’s showing to that of past Republican presidential nominees. This was not a one-time debacle because of GOP immigration rhetoric, but rather a long-term pattern of Republican inefficacy.
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