This weekend, Fox News' Julie Banderas featured a segment discussing the way Republicans are gearing up to get nasty and nativist on immigration this coming year -- particularly in state legislatures where a batch of anti-14th Amendment "anchor baby" laws are about to come bubbling up. She invited on Bob Dane, spokesman for the nativist hate group FAIR, and Frank Sharry of America's Voice, who pointed out that Republicans are slitting their own throats politically by taking this route.
Banderas: Bob, what do you make of that? Frank just pointed out that the Republican, they have leaned right -- very hard to the right, in fact, on the illegal immigration issue -- is this going to drive Hispanics into the hands of the Democrats?
Dane: No. You know, look, one of the things the Republicans are going to have to keep in mind, now that they've got the responsibility of the leadership mantle in the House, is they've got to demonstrate to the American public on the immigration issue that they 'get it'. That Americans have had it with the cost and impact of illegal immigration. And Republicans are going to have to be careful that they do not revert to the soft-on-enforcement and teasing-around-with-amnesty policies of '06 and '08 that led to their own demise.
Hmmmm. Maybe Dane has different sets of election results than I do. But the numbers don't lie: In 2008, Latinos provided Barack Obama with the bulk of his electoral muscle. In 2010, they turned back the Tea Party tide in the Senate. And indeed, in the ensuing months since those elections, Republicans continue to do their damnedest to push Latinos into voting Democratic for the foreseeable future.
But Dane made it clear -- especially in declaring that "amnesty is off the table" -- that the right-wing nativist faction now controlling the Republican is only interested in deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants. They have no interest in working out a system under which they can get right with the law. Which means that absolutely NOTHING will get done in terms of addressing immigration reform -- including the ongoing reality that the American economy generates hundreds of thousands of unskilled-labor jobs every year and yet only provides 5,000 green cards to cover them.
President Obama should take note too: Even though his administration has been objectively tougher about enforcing immigration laws than any preceding, the right-wing nativists will ALWAYS claim that he has been lax on enforcement. Maybe he should just give that particular malfunctioning strategy a break -- and put his shoulder to the wheel in getting real reform done. It may never pass this House, but Democrats still control the Senate and can set the stage for an immigration debate there. Obama could and should become a real leader in that debate -- because Americans really do want something done. And deportation isn't it.