Hours after Donald Trump launched into an anti-immigrant tirade during his presidential campaign announcement and claimed that Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, a top Republican party official has done nothing to denounce those comments.
Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s Chief Strategist & Communications Director, told CNN that Trump’s comments were “not helpful to the cause” of making the Republican party inclusive to Latino voters. But almost immediately, Spicer pivoted to the topic of improving border security.
CNN COMMMENTATOR: There are a lot of Hispanic voters who will not be happy, Sean, with Donald Trump saying something like that. Let me read from the GOP postmortem, the autopsy. Among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. And it talks about inclusivity, so how does that need square with the kind of rhetoric that you hear Donald Trump using?
SPICER: I mean, as far as painting Mexican Americans with that kind of a brush, I think that’s probably something that is not helpful to the cause.
But I think to the issue of illegal immigration, Mr. Trump and others have addressed that we need to be very firm on border security and look at ways to make sure America has fixed its broken immigration problem and finds a way to allow for people from whether it’s Mexico, Canada, Europe or wherever, to enter this country in a more systemic and more helpful way to our overall economy.
The Republican party has not seen much success in its repeated attempts to court Latino voters. Soon after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 general election, the RNC released a widely-circulated “autopsy report” that sought to widen its appeal to audiences like Latino voters on issues, including immigration reform. But Republicans have killed any chances of comprehensive immigration reform efforts like the 2013 bipartisan Senate bill. So far in this Congress, the Republican majorities have only introduced legislation seeking to end the president’s executive action to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation, a temporary stopgap created in the absence of Congressional action.
For many Latino voters however, immigration reform is a deeply personal matter that extends to their families. A Center for American Progress report found that Mexicans are disproportionately affected by immigration enforcement policies. Mexican immigrants comprise 58 percent of the unauthorized population in the United States and at least seven million children in the United States live with parents from Mexico with half of these children “estimated to be U.S. citizens living with noncitizen parents,” the report noted.
With about 800,000 eligible Latino voters turning 18 every year, there will be 28 million Latino voters in 2016. They made up ten percent of the electorate in 2012, mostly casting ballots for President Obama. But with a Republican party defiantly opposed to immigration actions that are widely popular among 89 percent of Latinos surveyed by a Latino Decisions November 2014 poll, it remains to be seen whether the party will be able to achieve the goal of inclusivity.