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08/08/2013 11:41 am ET

RedState Sweating Immigration Debate: What Will Our Cowardly Republicans Do?

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From The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic.

On Monday, Capitol Hill shuttered for a five-week recess. That means lawmaker visits to local wind-power factories, stent-maker shops, pancake joints and craft-beer pubs. It also means town halls!

What are Republicans going to say about “comprehensive immigration reform”? The Tea Party thinkers at RedState lay out the problem, as they see it:

A difference between the two major parties is that Democrats harness the energy of their base to fight legislative battles; Republicans make end-runs around their base to obviate their energy.

Let’s examine the GOP’s strategy for dealing with immigration. Instead of harnessing their energy to fight amnesty and hang it around the necks of Democrats in the red state electoral landscape next year, they are trying to outflank the conservative base with subterfuge in order to pass amnesty.

In 2010, Latinos made up 20 percent of Colorado residents and 13 percent of all eligible voters in the state. Those percentages have grown in the last three years. Colorado Republican and anti-illegal immigration crusader Tom Tancredo remains a national figure. He ran for governor in 2010 and galvanized the Latino population here to turn out in large numbers to oppose him and the Tea Party slate of candidates that he shared the ballot with, helping to deliver Republican defeats in that historic GOP-wave year. Tancredo is running for governor again this year.

The toss-up districts here represented by Republican U.S. House members Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton are heavily Latino. Republican U.S. Rep Cory Gardner’s vast solid-red agricultural district on the eastern plain is home to farmers and meatpackers hoping for reform. Schools in his district are filled with undocumented students.

Are Colorado Republicans going to be talking “Obamacare!” or are they going to talk immigration reform? When asked directly, are they going to talk “path to citizenship” or “amnesty”? Are they going to “harness the energy of their base” or “outflank it” — or will they somehow move beyond the terms of debate set up for them at places like RedState?

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