"Top Republicans Suddenly Back Immigration Reform After Latinos Overwhelmingly Back Obama"
When Democrats tried to get the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants through Congress in 2010, Republicans blocked the immigration reform measure in the Senate. But after a campaign in which GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney staked out harsh anti-immigration positions, and with President Obama winning 75 percent of Latino voters, several key leaders in the Republican party are coming out in favor of immigration reform:
- House Speaker John Boehner (OH): Saying the issue has been around for far too long, Boehner said in an ABC interview that “I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
- Former Gov. Haley Barbour (MS): Haley argued on the “Today” show that Republicans need to be in favor of good policy. “And good policy on immigration in the United States is, we are in a global battle for capital and labor, and we need to have what is good economic policy for America on immigration because we do need labor,” he said. “We not only need Ph.Ds in science and technology, we need skilled workers and we need unskilled workers. And we need to have an immigration policy that is good economic policy, and then — and then the politics will take care of itself.”
- Radio host Sean Hannity: On his radio show Thursday, Hannity told his listeners that he has “evolved” on immigration policy and now supports a “pathway to citizenship.” The problem can’t go on, he added. “It’s simple to me to fix it,” Hannity said. “I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here — you don’t say you’ve got to go home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on. Because, you know what, it’s got to be resolved. The majority of people here, if some people have criminal records you can send them home, but if people are here, law-abiding, participating for years, their kids are born here, you know, first secure the border, pathway to citizenship, done.”
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who is running for the chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Politico that Republicans will have to change how they reach out to Latino voters. “In some fashion, the way we have dealt with immigration gives us a black eye. And we need to figure out how to talk about issues and pursue policies that matter to Latino, Hispanic voters,” he said. And that’s clear from the exit poll results. Among Latino voters, immigration was the second most important issue behind jobs. Sixty percent of Latinos in the U.S. know someone who is an undocumented immigrant, and 90 percent are within two generations of immigrating to the U.S. After Romney spent most of his campaign embracing harmful immigration policies, most Latino voters reported that they thought Romney was “hostile toward Latinos,” while 66 percent said they believe Obama “truly cares about Latinos.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee, described it as a “breakthrough” that Boehner is willing to work on immigration reform, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has vowed to pass an immigration law. But other GOP congressional members have been resistant to reform in the past — House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) previously has promised to not hold a hearing on the DREAM Act — so it has yet to be seen if more Republicans will come around on immigration reform as well.