February 28, 2008
McCain's Immigration Dilemma
Some GOP strategists are hoping that a John McCain nomination will bolster the party’s appeal to Hispanics after many Republicans jumped on the anti-immigrant bandwagon over the last few years. From the Washington Times:
Two years ago, Republicans fought over immigration and hemorrhaged Hispanic voters. Now they are poised to nominate the one man who can rebuild the Hispanic voter coalition that pushed President Bush twice to victory, the architects of that coalition say.
"I think the only candidate that Republicans have running for president who could retain those votes is in fact Senator McCain," said the Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., president of Esperanza USA, founder of the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and a key player in helping Mr. Bush connect with Hispanic voters during his two runs for office.
While McCain did push for comprehensive immigration reform, in his quest to win over the right-wing base he largely abandoned his principled position, as even Cortes admitted. His new “image,” as the AP reports, is enforcement-only:
"He's focusing on enforcement, and in this community, enforcement means deportation, and that means separating more families, and more racial profiling and more of the incredible hardship that is affecting not just immigrants, but native-born Latinos," said Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza.
It appears McCain plans on walking a tightrope through November, with immigrants and the Hispanic community on one side and the Minuteman wing on the other. His own party may not be too helpful: while the GOP primary-caucus election in Texas on Tuesday may be pro forma, McCain will share the ballot with two anti-immigrant resolutions:
The first measure asks if local, state and federal officials should be required to enforce U.S. immigration laws "to secure our borders." Given the ongoing uproar over illegal immigration, the outcome seems pretty clear.
"I would be shocked if it didn't pass," said Kathy Ward, chairwoman of the Collin County Republican Party.
The second referendum, also related to illegal immigration, calls for legislation to require voters to show photo identification.
The measures won’t become law just yet; rather, they’re a way for the Republican Party to drum up support for anti-immigrant legislation later on:
"We generally look at things we believe the base of the party holds pretty dear," [Mary] Tschoepe [of the State Republican Executive Committee] said. "It gives us a big stick to take to the Legislature. We can say, 'Ninety-two percent of Republican primary voters think a voter ID in order to vote is an important issue. Let's get it done.' " …
Texas legislators are now studying an Oklahoma illegal immigration law that's considered the nation's toughest. People who shelter or conceal undocumented immigrants can be charged with a felony under the law passed last year.
Posted by Ezra at 5:52 PM