December 20, 2015
By Stuart Anderson
Lost in the Republican primary back and forth over immigration is the forgotten reason why Marco Rubio and like-minded conservatives wanted to pass immigration reform – to help Republicans win the White House and sustain majorities in Congress.
Here is what Marco Rubio said in a January 14, 2013 interview with the Wall Street Journal: “The immigration issue is a gateway issue for Hispanics, no doubt about it. No matter what your stance is on a number of other issues, if people somehow come to believe that you don’t like them or want them here, it’s difficult to get them to listen to anything else.”
He added: “I think it’s the rhetoric by a handful of voices in the minority, but loud nonetheless, that have allowed the left to create an unfair perception that conservatives and Republicans are anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration, and we do have to overcome that.”
After Mitt Romney’s defeat in the presidential election, and Romney’s poor showing among non-white voters, Marco Rubio initially received a good airing on pushing for immigration reform from many conservatives who understood the need to expand the reach of the Republican Party. In a January 29, 2013 interview with Rubio, Rush Limbaugh was skeptical of the Democrats and President Obama but he told Rubio, “What you are doing is admirable and noteworthy.”
After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee (RNC) laid out in a 100-page report, and in stark terms, the problems the Republican Party faced if it wanted to win the White House again.
“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence,” the RNC report noted. “It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
The report explained that Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and 26 percent of the Asian vote, compared to George W. Bush receiving 40 percent and 44 percent of each respectively in 2004.
“We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” report continued. “If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.”
In short, Marco Rubio thought the same as many other Republican leaders – if Republicans wanted to take back the White House, it needed to solve this problem. Given his background and position, he was in a unique position to do something about it.
Back in 2013, even Sen. Ted Cruz understood that Republicans needed to avoid completely alienating Hispanic voters. In 2013, his amendment in the Judiciary Committee would have permitted those here unlawfully to obtain legal status, but not be granted citizenship. He said, “I want immigration reform to pass. And so I would urge people of good faith on both sides of the aisle, if the objective is to pass common sense immigration reform that secures the borders, that improves legal immigration, and that allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows, then we should look for areas of bipartisan agreement and compromise to come together. And this amendment, I believe if this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.” (See link here, “Cruz 3” around the 5-minute mark.)
Despite his recent backtracking, Sen. Cruz was right. A compromise along the lines of legal status but not citizenship might have been acceptable to House Republicans. To become more acceptable to Democrats, one might have needed to modify the amendment, such as by allowing those brought here as children to naturalize, but the idea of legal status but no citizenship was discussed among many pro-reform advocates. (See here.)
Today, the most misleading statements from Sen. Ted Cruz are not that he did not really support legal status for those here unlawfully. He did, including lawful permanent residence. (Watch the video link of Cruz above.) He is misleading Republican primary voters by implying that efforts by Rubio and others to improve the chances a Republican wins the White House should never have been attempted. Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are positioning themselves to win the Republican nomination as if that is the final objective, not defeating a Democratic opponent in the general election.
To single-issue opponents of immigration and Republican members of Congress in safe seats, it may not matter much if a Republican wins the White House. However, if you are conservative and care about a conservative Supreme Court, repealing Obamacare, pro-market environmental policies, less regulation of the Internet, lower taxes, a stronger national defense, an improved foreign policy and a host of other important issues, then it should matter to you a great deal whether a Republican or Democrat wins the next presidential election, as well as the ones after that.
In a National Review article last year entitled “Will Hispanic voters prevent Republicans from Winning the White House,” GOP campaign veteran Myra Adams wrote, “What do these historical trends mean for Republican presidential prospects in 2016? Most likely, Republicans will not win back the White House in 2016 unless there is a radical course correction within the party resulting in a major reversal in Hispanic/Latino voting trends well established since 1980.”
Adams concluded, “Now consider this new demographic wave sweeping across our nation. Younger Hispanics are fast becoming an empowered voting bloc, with 50,000 teenagers turning 18 every month for the next two decades. There is no doubt that they will transform America, its policies, and its presidential politics. Thus, unless the Republican Party has a plan to woo younger Hispanic voters, the GOP faces the very real possibility that George W. Bush will be our nation’s last Republican president.”
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com