As bipartisan momentum builds for comprehensive immigration reform in the aftermath of the GOP’s poor showing among Latinos in the 2012 election, conservative Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) warned Republicans that “immigration is exactly the wrong subject to use to attract Hispanic support.”
Urging the GOP to tout America’s acceptance of legal immigrants, Smith wrote, in a Politico op-ed published on Wednesday, that conservatives should focus messaging “better financial security — more take-home pay, more job opportunities and a stronger economy,” and avoid falling into the trap of addressing the broken immigration system by allowing unauthorized immigrants to earn citizenship. Doing so, Smith says, would only strengthen Democrats, who would continue “giving benefits to illegal immigrants” and undermine the GOP’s politically:
Does anyone really think Republicans are going to outbid Democrats on giving benefits to illegal immigrants?
And fifth, you have to be a little suspicious when liberal Democrats tell Republicans they have to support amnesty to win elections. Do Republicans really think they have the best interests of the GOP at heart?
Immigration is the field Democrats want to lure Republicans to play on. Why? Because Democrats know they’ll win.
Democrats have done the math and realize that legalization inevitably would give them millions of votes, meaning more victories in congressional and presidential elections.
Smith offers some piecemeal reforms for establishing a guest-worker program in the agricultural industry and allowing immigrant graduates with advanced degrees in “science, technology, engineering and math ” to stay in the country.
However, he has a long history of supporting anti-immigration causes. In 2011, Smith supported measures that would have allowed the government to imprison immigrants indefinitely and forced authorities to deport undocumented immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence and come to them for help. He later refused to hold hearings on the DREAM Act, calling it an American nightmare.