Hey, I was wondering the other day how the Republicans' outreach efforts to Latinos were going. So who should pop back up in the news but our old nativist guru, the author of SB1070 himself, Kris Kobach. Seems he's having an outsize role on the shape of the Republican platform -- and not only is he reliably nativist, but he's also anti-black and a paleo-wingnut on abortion, too. A perfect Republican.
Most of all, he's pushing the Republican immigration platform as far to the right as possible (without hitting Joe the Dumber Plumber territory). As Elise Foley reports:
During a meeting of the GOP platform committee in Tampa, Fla., Kobach called for the party to officially back increased border fencing and the E-Verify employment verification system, and to go after two immigrant-friendly initiatives: in-state tuition for some undocumented young people and so-called sanctuary cities. Those measures were in the 2008 Republican platform but had been dropped from the draft this year, Politico reported.
"These positions are consistent with the Romney campaign," Kobach said. "As you all remember, one of the primary reasons that Governor Romney rose past Governor Perry when Mr. Perry was achieving first place in the polls was because of his opposition to in-state tuition for illegal aliens."
Now, why exactly would the GOP be taking Kobach's advice? Especially considering that he just lost another big round in the federal courts regarding the SB1070 clones he had successfully promoted in Georgia and Alabama:
An appeals court on Monday sided with the federal government in blocking several provisions in Alabama and Georgia's controversial anti-illegal immigration laws, while allowing other key parts of those laws to stand.
Advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center applauded the decisions, with National Immigration Law Center executive director Marielena Hincapie saying in a statement they "should send a strong message that state attempts to criminalize immigrants and their loved ones will not be tolerated."
Still, while three judges from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did strike down more challenged provisions than they allowed in a pair of rulings, officials from both Alabama and Georgia pointed out that the vast majority of their states' immigration laws remain valid.
"The essence of Alabama's immigration law has been upheld by today's ruling," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. "The core of (the) law remains if you live or work in the state, you should do so legally."
Ah, but those states are grasping at straws, because, as Amanda Peterson Beadle at ThinkProgress explains, these rulings almost completely gutted these laws:
But in the first ruling on a state immigration law following the Supreme Court’s SB 1070 decision, the 11th Circuit federal appeals court struck down most of Alabama’s HB 56, including the worst provisions like the state’s attack on school children:
– School officials cannot ask about students’ immigration status: Under HB 56, schools were required to determine the immigration status of every newly enrolled student. As a result, students stayed home from school once the provision went into effect in late September out of confusion over the law and fear that they or their parents could be deported. By February, 13 percent of Latino students dropped out by February as families fled Alabama because of the immigration policy.
– Alabama cannot ban contracts between lawful and unlawful residents.: Alabama’s HB 56 included an unprecedented ban against contracting with undocumented immigrants. No other state or nation has such a measure, which, for example, could have made it illegal for a landlord to rent an apartment to someone who is not a legal resident. Politicians readily admitted that the goal of HB 56 was to make Alabama a hostile place for undocumented immigrants, and in blocking the contracts provision, the court recognized that the point of the contracts section was “forcing undocumented individuals out of Alabama.”
Additionally, the 11th Circuit stopped Alabama and Georgia from making it a crime to transport or harbor an undocumented immigrant in those states. Both states included these provisions in their similar anti-immigrant laws approved by state legislators more than a year ago. Arizona’s SB 1070 also makes its a crime to harbor or transport someone who is not a legal resident, but the Supreme Court did not rule on it. Today, a civil rights coalition is asking a federal judge in Arizona to block this section of SB 1070 especially now that it has been struck down in Alabama and Georgia.
... In all, the 11th Circuit’s ruling is a victory for immigrant advocates and a significant — if not total — loss for proponents of extreme “self-deportation” immigration policies.
Well, hey, let's check in and see how the Romney campaign is handling all this. Here's a recent soft-pedal piece from USA Today that, um, puts it rather delicately:
The issue of illegal immigration also becomes complicated for Romney.
GOP officials are quick to point out that immigration is not the main priority for Hispanics when casting their vote. Polls back that up: The economy is their No. 1 priority, as it is for the country as a whole. And Romney volunteers say voters want to talk more about the economy than anything else.
"They don't really bring it up, and neither do I," Saltus said.
Barreto calls immigration a "gateway issue" for Hispanic voters — if a candidate is wrong on the issue, it's hard to listen to anything else.
"It makes it hard for the candidates to even get in the door," he said.
Romney took a hard stance on illegal immigration during the GOP primary. He called for more funding to secure the border with Mexico, pushed identity-verification laws to keep illegal immigrants out of American jobs and endorsed the idea of "self-deportation," where laws make life so hard for illegal immigrants that they choose to return to their home countries.
The issue becomes more prominent for voters who know, or are related to, an illegal immigrant. About a quarter of Hispanic voters know someone, or are related to, someone facing deportation, and more than half know an illegal immigrant, according to a Latino Decisions poll conducted last year.
Despite those numbers, Romney volunteers said the issue rarely comes up when talking with voters.
Matthew Mirliani, a 19-year-old volunteer who will start studying at Dartmouth College this fall, has been knocking on doors, making phone calls and writing op-eds on behalf of Republican candidates for months. When asked how voters respond to Romney's immigration record, the Mount Vernon teen spoke quickly.
"No one's talking about that," Mirliani said. "That's not the topic."
That's right! Not the topic! We don't wanna talk about immigration reform here! Because that would derail the nice, immigration-free reality they want to construct.
These guys are whistling past the graveyard if they are telling themselves that Latino voters don't care about immigration. Sure, it's not the No. 1 subject -- that would be JOBS, a subject that Republicans aren't so good at talking about either, but what the hey, it beats talking about Romney's plan to have all 12 million undocumented immigrants "self-deport".
Mebbe that's why Obama won that poll on their own Latino outreach website. And why that same website used stock photos of Asian children to illustrate their Latino outreach.
Yeah, I would say that outreach is going just swimmingly. As in Obama is maintaining that massive lead among Latino voters, 63 to 28 percent.