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Fernando Espuelas

Fernando Espuelas

Posted: April 30, 2010 03:25 PM

National Republicans Wake Up and Denounce Arizona Anti-Latino Law

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The logic of elections is simple and elegant: the one with the most votes wins.

Republicans are looking at the nation's demography and see a yawning gap between the GOP and the growing Latino population.

The Pew Center has projected that roughly 75% of the growth of the Latino population in the United states over the next couple of decades will come from native births - not immigration. 

These are Americans who will vote - and will vote in large numbers in key states that have a disproportionate impact in presidential elections: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois are on that list.

So the Arizona Anti-Latino measure just signed into law by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, with the party-line support of her fellow Republicans, is already having repercussions for the GOP nationally.

Civil rights groups, Latinos and Libertarians are united in their opposition to a law that will, effectively, legalize racial profiling and make it unsafe for Americans of Latino descent to walk in the streets of Arizona without fear of being stopped by the police on "reasonable suspicion" of being undocumented - or the certainty that they are Latinos.

Predictably, this law is the golden crown of the Republican Party's repudiation of immigration reform and Latinos in particular.

Long term strategists in the GOP, however, are looking at the evolving demographics of the country - and wondering how do they continue to be an effective national party without some level of Latino support.

Even George W. Bush's "Brain", Karl Rove, spoke against the law, reports the Orlando Sentinel:

Karl Rove, chief political strategist for former President George W. Bush, today questioned a controversial new Arizona law designed to cut down on illegal immigration by making it a crime to not produce proof of citizenship when a law enforcement officer demands it...

..."I think there is going to be some constitutional problems with the bill," he said to the standing-room-only crowd at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center. "I wished they hadn't passed it, in a way."

So in the end, as it always does in a functioning representative democracy, it comes to votes.

Both Democrats and Republicans need Latinos in  their coalitions.  Simple as that. 

And the Arizona law is not just a slap in the face of Latinos - it is an attack against our civil rights and American identity.

That this law is a 100% creation of the Arizona GOP is not going unnoticed by Americans of Latino descent. 

This will be remembered.

So now we hear the fast back pedaling of national GOP leaders as they try to distance their party from the political train wreck that is this Arizona law.

But their soft critiques of the fiasco - always careful not to irritate their base that seems to be enthusiastically supportive of the police state tactics enshrined into this law - may not be enough to undo the brand damage to the national Republican Party.

Much as California Governor Pete Wilson's Proposition 187, which sought to kick undocumented children out of schools, permanently branded the state Republican Party as, fair or not, racist, this Arizona law is doing the same for the GOP but at a national level.

Prop 187 happened in the pre-Internet age.  It was, to a certain extent, a local issue.  The damage to the GOP was contained to one state, albeit the largest state in the Union.

Today Latinos and civil libertarians have used social media to spread the word about this authoritarian law- and to organize effective opposition. 

This prairie fire is spreading and if left unchecked by the Republican Party it will create a permanent constituency for the Democratic Party: Latinos.