Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) rightly warns about the demise of the GOP if his party does not help pass reasonable immigration reform.
He argues that if the party fails, “it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016. We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
His “death spiral” description is on the mark. In 2012, Barack Obama received 71 percent of Hispanic vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 27 percent, down from 31 percent for McCain in 2008 and 44 percent for Bush in 2004. Hispanics are a fast-growing portion of the population. Today nearly 17 percent of nation’s citizens are Hispanic, with that percentage rising to 30 by 2050.
Further, many traditional Republican states as well as swing states have significant and growing Hispanic populations: 37.6 percent are Hispanic in Texas; 29.6 percent in Arizona; 26.5 percent in Nevada; 22.5 percent in Florida; and 20.7 percent in Colorado.
The GOP should not take comfort in Romney garnering 59 percent of the white, non-Hispanic vote. That’s because the white, non-Hispanic portion of the population dropped from 75.6 percent in 1990 to 63.7 percent in 2010, and it is on a downward slide. America will soon be a majority “minority” nation.
Many Republicans complain that the party should stand for principles rather act on electoral expediencies. But many Republicans hold the wrong principles on immigration.
Most illegal immigrants came here because rather than suffer in poverty and destitution, they sought employment opportunities in order to provide better lives for themselves and their families. And when faced bureaucratic obstacles and years of delays to legal immigration, they said “To hell with idiot America lawmakers and paper-pushers. I’m coming here to make money!” That’s the American way, and it should be celebrated!
Many Republicans, bizarrely, are enraged that these immigrants failed to jump through the sort of government hoops that GOPers normally loathe. But these immigrants are exactly the kind of folks Republicans should welcome into the country and their party.
The devil in the immigration bill is in the details. Paternalist Democrats want to add millions of Hispanics to the welfare rolls, destroying their work ethic and making them dependent on government. A morally equitable solution would be to bar illegal immigrants from receiving federal benefits—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid—as the “price” for staying in this country, while exempting them from all taxes that Americans are forced to pay for these entitlements. How’s that for a deal?
The hard reality is that if Republicans truly want limited government and free markets, they must sell that vision of the country to all groups rather than disparage those seek the American dream.
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.
For further information:
*Edward Hudgins, “ Four Facts for Conservatives About Immigration Policy. ” June 20, 2012.
*Edward Hudgins, “ The Golden Door: Immigration, Liberty, and the American Character. ” The New Individualist, Summer 2006.
*Edward Hudgins, “ Webinar: Republicans & Libertarians: What's Really Possible In Politics? ” March 25, 2013.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.