Warnings about the Republican Party’s future have been dire since the November elections. Find a way to attract minority voters –- particularly the nation’s fast-growing Latino population -– or face losing the White House and down-ballot races for decades.
An analysis of a poll released this month by the independent polling firm Latino Decisions found that neither Republicans nor Democrats should rest easy.
In a hypothetical election match-up between a Republican candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants against a Democrat who opposes citizenship, 61 percent of Latinos who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 said they would would choose the Republican, according to the poll. Another 43 percent of Latino Obama supporters said they would become more likely to consider or vote for a Republican if the party plays a major role in comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, 41 percent of Obama’s Latino voters have already cast a ballot in favor of a down-ticket Republican seeking federal, state or local office, the poll found.
The possible good news for Democrats and undocumented immigrants is that even Latinos who identify as Republicans seem prepared to insist on comprehensive immigration reform. About 64 percent of Latino Republicans described comprehensive immigration reform as “very” or “extremely” important, according to the Latino Decisions analysis. And nearly 70 percent of Latino Republicans said they wanted an immigration plan with a clear pathway to citizenship.
Latino Decisions interviewed 800 Latino registered voters via landline and mobile phone in every state from Feb. 15 to Feb. 26. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
Ronald Reagan liked it
The last president to sign a major bipartisan immigration reform with a path to citizenship was Ronald Reagan in 1986. "I believe in the idea of amnesty," the <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/memory-of-immigration-reform-under-ronald-reagan-haunts-current-debate/1273597" target="_blank">former president once said, according to the Tampa Bay Times</a>. And what Republican doesn't want to emulate Reagan?
To give the economy a boost
The increased earnings, spending and tax collection that would result from passing the DREAM Act could amount to a $329 billion positive impact on the U.S. economy. A separate study by the Cato Institute says that <a href="http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/2012/1/cj32n1-12.pdf" target="_blank">comprehensive immigration reform would boost national GDP by 0.83 percent per year, amounting to a $1.5 trillion impact over 10 years</a>. For the party that markets itself as the most rational steward of the economy, legalizing the status of people who were brought here as children ought to a no-brainer.
Because Republicans like small government
The $18 billion that the U.S. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/immigration-enforcement-cost_n_2425647.html" target="_blank">spent on immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year</a> is more than all other law enforcement agencies combined. The vast majority of that money went to police and detain people without criminal records whose only infraction is residing and working in the United States. Immigration reform would cut down on government waste.
Because of family values
More than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/deportation-more-than-200000-parents-removed-citizen-child_n_2316692.html" target="_blank">200,000 parents who say they have a U.S. citizen child have been deported since 2010</a>. What better to show support for family values than to stop indiscriminately deporting people's parents?
Because the undocumented embody the ideal work ethic
Who shows a stronger work ethic than those willing to labor for less pay and fewer benefits? What U.S. students have a greater commitment to their education than those who have no guarantee that they can legally practice their profession once they graduate? The party that paints itself as the party of independence and self-reliance ought to embrace the undocumented.
To boost the number of church-goers
The <a href="http://www.pewforum.org/Age/Religion-Among-the-Millennials.aspx" target="_blank">U.S.-born take religion less seriously these days</a> -- a troubling phenomenon for a party with strongly identified with religious faith. The Latin American immigrants, on the other hand, remain largely religious. A Pew Hispanic Center survey published last year found that more than half of <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/04/v-politics-values-and-religion/" target="_blank">foreign-born Latinos attended religious services weekly</a>.
Because immigrants are job creators
Immigrants helped found almost half of the top venture-funded companies in the United States, <a href="http://www.inc.com/eric-markowitz/immigrant-entrepreneurs-are-key-job-creators.html" target="_blank">according to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy</a>. Those companies created an average of about 150 jobs a piece. Why deport potential job creators?