GOP con­tem­plates amnesty sui­cide

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Jef­frey. T Kuh­ner

Republicans are on the verge of com­mit­ting sui­cide. In the wake of Pres­i­dent Obama’s re-elec­tion, many con­ser­va­tives are de­mand­ing the GOP em­brace amnesty for il­le­gal aliens. The of­fi­cial term is “com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form.”

Sean Han­nity has now “evolved” on the is­sue. Oth­ers — Dick Mor­ris, Charles Krauthammer and The Wall Street Jour­nal’s Ed­i­to­rial Page — are ring­ing the alarm bells: get in front on amnesty be­fore the GOP is swamped by the surg­ing Latino vote. House Speaker John Boehner said that com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form is “long over­due.” Trans­la­tion: Belt­way Republicans are ready to wave the white flag of sur­ren­der.

The pro-amnesty crowd ar­gues that the GOP lost the elec­tion be­cause it failed to court the His­panic vote. The party’s sup­posed harsh rhetoric against il­le­gal aliens is said to have driven mil­lions of Lati­nos into the Demo­cratic camp. This al­legedly ex­plains why Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney lost Ne­vada, Ohio, Iowa and Florida. A more flex­i­ble GOP, one em­brac­ing im­mi­gra­tion re­form — so the ar­gu­ment goes — is the key to a re­turn to na­tional power and elec­toral vi­a­bil­ity. Plus, they stress that ig­nor­ing the 12-20 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the coun­try is no longer fea­si­ble — this grow­ing sub­pop­u­la­tion must be taken out of the shad­ows.

The very op­po­site, how­ever, is true: grant­ing amnesty is not an op­tion, ei­ther prac­ti­cally or po­lit­i­cally. Polls con­sis­tently show that a strong ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans re­ject pro­vid­ing il­le­gal aliens with a path to cit­i­zen­ship. The rea­son is sim­ple: such a pol­icy would re­ward crim­i­nal be­hav­ior. It would erad­i­cate Amer­ica’s na­tional sovereignty, telling the world that our bor­ders ex­ist in name only. Come here long enough, and in big enough num­bers, and amnesty is in­evitable.

More­over, the rule of law would be un­der­mined — shat­tered. Il­le­gal im­mi­grants are not “un­doc­u­mented work­ers.” They’re crim­i­nals, who broke our laws to en­ter Amer­ica. This is why amnesty (no mat­ter how dressed up) would in­evitably trig­ger a fu­ri­ous pub­lic back­lash. Grant­ing amnesty threat­ens to fur­ther splin­ter our al­ready frac­tured na­tion.

Republicans have been down this failed road be­fore. In 1986, then-Pres­i­dent Rea­gan passed amnesty for roughly 3 mil­lion il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

The re­sults? The bor­der fence was never built.

The de­ci­sion be­came a mag­net, an in­cen­tive, for mil­lions more to come.

And the elec­toral ben­e­fits re­dounded not to the GOP, but the Democrats. Cal­i­for­nia — once Richard Nixon and Ron­ald Rea­gan coun­try — be­came solid blue. The South­west turned in­creas­ingly Demo­cratic.

The Republicans are un­will­ing to con­front a stark but sad re­al­ity: The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of His­pan­ics vote for Democrats be­cause they are the party of big gov­ern­ment. Many Lati­nos, es­pe­cially low­er­in­come, lower-skilled ones rely on pub­lic hous­ing, free ed­u­ca­tion, Medi­care, the earned in­come tax credit and food stamps. Amnesty is not the pri­mary rea­son most Lati­nos vote Demo­cratic; rather, it is sup­port for the wel­fare state.

Oth­er­wise, the GOP would be mak­ing mas­sive in­roads into the His­panic community. Fol­low­ing Rea­gan’s amnesty, Ge­orge H.W. Bush re­ceived fewer His­panic votes than the Gip­per did. Ge­orge W. Bush, who cham­pi­oned open bor­ders and com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form, barely re­ceived 40 per­cent of the Latino vote. Sen. John McCain, who spear­headed the push for amnesty in Congress, got just over 30 per­cent in 2008. Hence, the facts are clear — and damn­ing: pro-amnesty Republicans have not and can­not at­tract mas­sive chunks of the His­panic elec­torate. There is no po­ten­tial Latino GOP ma­jor­ity, at least for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Mr. Rom­ney did not lose be­cause of his weak­ness with His­pan­ics, blacks, fem­i­nists, unions, ho­mo­sex­u­als or any other pri­mar­ily Demo­cratic con­stituency. These blocs are part of the lib­eral coali­tion.

Mr. Rom­ney lost for a more ba­sic rea­son: He was un­able to gal­va­nize the GOP base. He re­ceived nearly 3 mil­lion fewer votes than Mr. McCain did in 2008. That dif­fer­ence proved to be Mr. Obama’s mar­gin of vic­tory. Had Mr. Rom­ney gar­nered the same pop­u­lar vote to­tal as Mr. McCain, the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gover­nor would be pres­i­dent-elect to­day. And no one would be talk­ing about the Republicans’ sup­posed His­panic prob­lem. The party es­tab­lish­ment put forth a GOP mod­er­ate, and mil­lions of con­ser­va­tives stayed home.

Amnesty is a poi­soned chal­ice. Republicans drink it at their peril. The is­sue will split the GOP in half. Na­tion­al­ists, such as my­self, will leave and join a third party. Many on the right will fol­low. Republicans be warned: Com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form is the path to obliv­ion. Jef­frey T. Kuh­ner is a colum­nist at The Wash­ing­ton Times and host of “The Kuh­ner Re­port” on AM-680 WRKO (www.wrko.com) in Bos­ton.

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