What’s the Republican Party going to do about immigration? Donald Trump has an idea: Mass deportations, cutting off new visas, seizure of electronic remittances sent by immigrants, of course, tampering with the Fourteenth Amendment to stop granting citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.
This is what it takes to make America great again: Treating our neighbors like animals.
The New York Times points out this morning that this presents a few problems for the GOP, which is trying to retain a shot at relevance in the general election.
National Republican strategists warn that catering to the most hard-line voters on immigration in the nominating contest will hurt the party in the general election, as it did the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, who endorsed “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants and attracted historically low Latino support.
“If Republicans want to be competitive in the general election, they have to distance themselves from Trump on both illegal and legal immigration,” said Alfonso Aguilar, an official in George W. Bush’s administration and the executive director of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, a conservative group. “His proposal on birthright citizenship is very insulting to Latinos, and every day, this is the top story on Spanish language media. Right now, if the other candidates don’t respond to Trump, Latinos will buy the argument that Republicans agree with him.”
Demographics suggest Republicans have an even bigger challenge with Latinos in 2016 than in previous elections. The number of Latino voters has been growing rapidly. The population of Latinos eligible to vote by 2016 is expected to increase by 18 percent over 2012 to about 28 million people, more than 11 percent of voters nationwide, according to projections by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, a nonpartisan organization.
Sadly, Trump’s stance polls well with a large slice of primary voters. The Times cites an NBC poll that shows 43 percent of Republicans favor mass deportations — a figure that I want to believe is overinflated simply by people’s lack of personal contact with immigrants, especially the undocumented. Have a face-to-face conversation with a mother or a father who’s been here for two decades working to raise a family and live a life — then, please, look them in the eye and tell them they just need to go back home.
Still, among a certain very loud and very angry group of Americans, immigration has become the master issue of the day, providing an intersection of racial animus, foreign policy fearmongering, economic anxiety and the terrible thought of providing anything to help someone in a worse position than yourself. Among such folks, this stuff is pure gold:
Perhaps the most difficult issue for the Republican Party is Mr. Trump’s call to deport not only all illegal immigrants, but also young people who came to this country as children and have received protections though executive actions by Mr. Obama.
“We have to keep the families together, but they have to go,” Mr. Trump said on “Meet the Press” in an interview, broadcast on Sunday, aboard his jet at the Des Moines airport.
Dismiss him at your peril.