July 29, 2016
By Jordan Morales
In early July, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in an interview with Politico of his plans next year, “I'll tell you what I'm going to do in 2017. I'm going to take the Gang of Eight bill out, dust it off and ask anybody and everybody who wants to work with me to make it better to do so.” He also predicted that Donald Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton partly because he would not be able to win the Latino vote, a voting bloc that Graham passionately advocated for during his own presidential run.
Deniers often claim that the Latino vote, in general, doesn't really matter since most are in either California or Texas, solid blue and red states respectively. But the 2012 defeat showed that the Latino vote was pivotal in Colorado, Nevada and Florida, all three swing states. Not to mention that Hispanics are a fast growing voter demographic (estimates are that by 2050, one-fourth to one-third of all voters will be Latino). Experts say that the Republican nominee must win 40 percent of Hispanics to win the White House in 2016. This is a major problem for Trump, who in a recent Pew Research Poll was only able to muster 24 percent of the registered Latino vote, less than the 27 percent that Mitt Romney won in 2012.
After the 2012 defeat, Reince Priebus commissioned the Growth and Opportunity Project. It said Republicans “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.” In 2013, four Republican senators led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform with the “Gang of Eight bill.” Perhaps they thought that the base was ready to lead on this issue after their loss. Instead, they were skewered on talk radio for trying to dole out “amnesty.” The angst against pragmatic politicians such as “Lindsey Grahmnesty” culminated in the nomination of Donald Trump this year who has tripled down on the failed messaging of 2012, now promising mass deportations.
This opportunity with Latino voters is not lost on the Democrats. During their convention in Philadelphia, they brought out undocumented families to speak, including an 11-year old-girl who said she was afraid her undocumented parents would be deported. It's obvious the Democrats are looking to solidify their Latino support, taking advantage of the Republicans’ alienating rhetoric. In one of the DNC’s leaked emails there was one titled “Getting out the Latino vote in 2016 and beyond” where they analyzed Hispanic brand loyalty. It is all rather foreboding for Republicans. It said “Hispanics are the most brand loyal consumers in the world” and “Hispanic brand loyalty is generational: entire families.” One of the most disturbing points for Republicans inside the email was that “Once a brand loses this loyalty, Hispanics never re-engage.” The Democrats are playing for keeps this time around and Republicans haven't even showed up to the game yet.
So, assuming Republicans lose in November as Sen. Graham has predicted, what should we do? First we need to follow the 2012 autopsy report and Sen. Graham’s advice and enthusiastically champion comprehensive immigration reform. Clinton’s VP pick, Sen. Tim Kaine, recently said, “Paul Ryan and the other leaders of his party are going to understand that if they want a future for their party they are going to have to work together to find a solution to this.” It's sad that the other party’s VP nominee has to tell us the obvious, but it is what it is and we ought to listen to him on this point.
House Republicans need to get on board with what Sen. Graham is advocating for in 2017. If there is no other motivation, we need to realize that President Obama’s “executive amnesty” was blocked by a 4-4 tie on the Supreme Court. That tie will certainly be broken after Clinton nominates a liberal justice. She's promised to expand Obama’s executive actions when it comes to undocumented immigrants and with a friendly Supreme Court, she’ll be able to do it. I have a feeling we’ll be begging for the Gang of Eight bill when that happens.
Let us finally learn our costly lesson and support a Republican-led comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.
Source: Greenville Online