Editor’s Note: We found the panic and alarm expressed this week by immigration reform opponents striking, and thought it would interest (and encourage!) our readers
In the aftermath of another electoral defeat, in which Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported President Obama and Democrats, many Republicans seem tempted by the Sirens’ song that getting behind amnesty and even higher levels of immigration will be their path to political salvation. The Republicans might want to brush up on their Greek mythology because they are about to be lured into a political shipwreck. If Republicans want to become competitive among Hispanic voters, they will need to try something other than pandering on immigration. Getting behind amnesty is a prescription for disaster both for them and, more importantly, the nation.
• Immigration is not the issue on which most Hispanics make their voting decisions. All polling indicates that immigration ranks far down their list of voting priorities.
• In 2009, median Hispanic household income was $39,730, compared to median U.S. household income of $60,088. The Republican signature message of lower taxes and smaller government has little appeal to voters (of any ethnicity) who earn low wages and may depend on a variety of government assistance programs.
• The Sirens singing their songs from the rocky coast claim that Hispanic voters are a natural Republican constituency because they are “social conservatives.” Wrong. Polls also show that Hispanic voters DO NOT back Republican positions on key social issues.
• The last time we enacted an amnesty in 1986 it was approved by a Republican-led Senate and signed by a Republican president, Ronald Reagan. Two years later, the Republican candidate for president, George H.W. Bush, got just 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in an electoral trouncing of Michael Dukakis. Romney polled roughly the same percentage of Hispanic votes – about 29 percent. So much for that theory.
• Because of the enormous growth of the Hispanic population, Bush’s 1988 deficit among Hispanic voters amounted to about 1.4 million votes. Romney, who received a nearly identical percentage of the Hispanic vote, spotted Obama about 5.25 million votes.
• Even if Republicans can actually get to their target of 38 percent of the Hispanic vote (which is a long-shot at best), they would continue to lose ground as high levels of immigration increase the number of low income voters.
The Republicans’ best hope of making inroads among Hispanic voters is actually to oppose amnesty, reduce overall immigration, and end family chain migration. Mass immigration, without regard to people’s skills and education, is a key factor holding Hispanics back economically.
With lower immigration and enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, Hispanic Americans stand the best chance of moving up the socio-economic ladder…and Republicans stand the best chance of winning their votes.