Avowed immigration hardliner Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) announced his immediate opposition on Monday to a bipartisan Senate framework on comprehensive immigration reform, suggesting that it could be serving as an ill-advised Republican olive branch to Latino voters.
Barletta went on to say that the GOP should have no interest in providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, claiming that most are uneducated, government-dependent individuals who wouldn't support the party.
"I hope politics is not at the root of why we're rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they're going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken," Barletta said, according to the Morning Call. "The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on."
The Senate "gang of eight" includes four Republican lawmakers, who in their crafting of the plan have undertaken an effort acknowledged by the GOP following the party's losses in the 2012 elections. Many Republicans have noted their past failures to resonate with Latino voters, and have sought to shift policies and messaging in hopes of improving the party's outreach.
But Barletta, a former mayor with a controversial past of supporting strict immigration enforcement measures, appears to believe that the latest campaign for immigration reform can be boiled down to "amnesty."
"It's amnesty that America can't afford," Barletta said. "We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day."
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will deliver his own speech in Las Vegas, outlining his own priorities for immigration reform.