Will Hispanics Ever Support the GOP?

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Jan. 29 2013 6:50 PM

The GOP’s Demographic Dare

If the Republican Party supports immigration reform, will Hispanics ever support the GOP?

(Continued from Page 1)

But how do you get there? Since Sunday night, when the Octogang’s deal leaked to Politico, we haven’t heard much from the demography-is-destiny Republicans. They believe, for cultural reasons, that Hispanic immigrants are natural Democratic voters. There is a theory of “makers” and “takers,” and no matter how many calluses they get picking lettuce, the new arrivals go into column two.

The most honest Republican member of Congress’ demographic group is Rep. Lou Barletta. He can trace his success to the mid-2000s immigration wars. He ran Hazleton, Pa., and pushed through the Illegal Immigration Relief Act.* It was all enforcement—fines on landlords who leased to illegal immigrants and denial of licenses to business that employed them. In 2010, he won a seat in Congress. In 2011, it was gerrymandered to protect him.

“Anyone who believes that they're going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken," Barletta told Colby Itkowitz, Washington reporter for an Allentown paper. "The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they'll depend on.”

Advertisement

In 2006 and 2007, the Barlettas of the GOP combined this argument with two bogeymen: wan enforcement and a new surge of immigrants. Neither of those fears retains their old power. Border fencing, deportations, and border agents are all at or above the levels promised during the Bush era’s failed immigration bills. And the Mexican economy simply isn’t weak enough to inspire the old pace of border-crossings, something the president obliquely bragged about in his Tuesday immigration speech.

That leaves Republicans with the demographic dare. And like Hannity, their opinion leaders just aren’t really sure about the risks, not like they were before 2012. Last week, before the Octogang’s framework came out, Sen. Marco Rubio called into Mark Levin’s radio show. Levin, a conservative attorney who sees tyranny behind every White House rose bush, was brought into the radio industry by Hannity. Before he talked to Rubio, he swore that the GOP’s immigration position had “nothing to do” with their defeat. Post-Rubio, he had been healed. “We have de facto amnesty right now,” said Levin, quoting Rubio’s spin. “When he said it, it set a light bulb off. Maybe I am a little slow.”

On Tuesday, before Obama’s speech, Rubio repeated the trick. The cynicism was rising, because the president was about to speak—to promise his own bill if the Octogang failed—and Republicans like Flake warned that Obama could “poison the well.” But Limbaugh went easy, too. Instead of assuming that the new immigrants were lazy, natural takers, he asked Rubio if they were more industrious, more American. “Are conservatives stuck in the past about misjudging why immigrants are drawn to America today?”

“The folks I interact with,” said Rubio, “when they get to this country and they open their own business, they see the cost of government firsthand.”

For a couple of minutes, on-air, two Republicans who wanted the party to win again agreed that they could convert the new arrivals. “What you are doing is admirable and noteworthy," Limbaugh said. "You are recognizing reality.”

Correction, Jan. 30, 2013: This article originally misspelled the town name of Hazleton. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 2:18 PM The NFL Is Not a Nonprofit So why does it get to act like one?
  Life
Doonan
Sept. 18 2014 2:00 PM On the Death of My Homophobic Dog I named him Liberace, but I couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate namesake for this coarse, emotionally withholding Norwich terrier.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 2:03 PM Ryan Adams’ New Song Is a Reminder That He’s One of His Generation’s Best Songwriters
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.