This past November, Nathan Deal (R-GA), a conservative former congressman, won Georgia’s governorship. Throughout his campaign, Deal vowed to crack down immigration. When Arizona implemented its draconian immigration law he promised to “work to pass and sign similar legislation.” He came out in favor of changing the 14th amendment to deny the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship long before it was even popular.
Along those lines, Deal’s predecessor — outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA) — shad some words of wisdom to share with the GOP. The Associated Press reports:
Perdue said his party needs to avoid “a gang-type mentality” that could be harmful to those “who want the American dream.”
“The Republican Party needs to be very, very careful that it maintains the golden rule in its rhetoric regarding immigration policy,” Perdue told The AP.
Perdue said the GOP needs to ensure that “people of color and people who are not U.S.-born” feel welcome. “And I think that’s the challenge of the Republican Party.”
“(Immigration) is a very emotive, emotion-filled topic that I think sometimes gets us out there where our hearts really aren’t,” Perdue said.
Perdue is likely concerned about the fact that the foreign-born share of Georgia’s population rose from 2.7 percent in 1990 to 9.4 percent in 2008. Almost 35 percent of those immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens who can vote. The new census data shows that, in Georgia, the share of the Latino population has grown by nearly 50 percent since 2000. It may have not been enough to stop someone like Deal from taking office; however, in a close election their voting power could tip the scale.
Finally, Perdue is not exactly a saint on immigration himself. In fact, he once stated, “It is simply unacceptable for people to sneak into this country illegally on Thursday, obtain a government-issued ID on Friday, head for the welfare office on Monday and cast a vote on Tuesday.”