Anti-immigrant fervor grips U.S. and European right

In my column this week titled "Harry Reid fights back," I made the point that if the primary defeat of Houses Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is a death knell for immigration reform, it will gravely harm Republicans with Hispanic voters for a generation and help Democrats in 2014. What is striking about the GOP today is that, like rightist parties in Europe, there is an intense antipathy to immigrants and to some degree foreigners in general.

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As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is by far the most likely person to be America's next president and whose strength is further increased by the anti-immigrant fervor of the GOP, said this week: It is understandable that people worry about low wages jobs being taken by immigrants but the solution is to create more jobs, not punish immigrants.

From the United States to Europe, the right is taking an ominous turn towards a politics of fear where even historically reasonable conservative parties are acting like more extreme rightist parties with names such as the National Front. From the recent elections for the European Parliament to the primary upset in Virginia, there is an angry and fear-ridden backlash from the right against immigrants, foreigners and political leaders who believe in governing and not demonizing all political opponents as enemies.

In Europe there will now be a profound debate about the future of Europe. In America there will now be an all-out civil war, as the politics of hate directed against Democrats such as President Obama and Hillary Clinton is also being directed by some Republicans against other Republicans.

The anti-immigrant fervor of the GOP will be a character and political test of Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) who have supported immigration reform. If the GOP is such a small tent that Cantor is no longer welcome in its leadership, will Bush, Rubio and Ryan stand tall on principle or run away from conscience out of political cowardice?

The GOP alienation of Hispanics, along with the GOP alienation of women, leaves Hillary Clinton stronger than ever and positioned for a Democratic big-tent landslide against a small-tent GOP in 2016.

Immigration reform has strong support from the American people. If Republicans kill immigration reform today, it may take a 2017 inaugural of President Hillary Clinton, and a 2017 swearing-in of a Democratic House and Senate, to make immigration reform happen which, one way or the other, it will.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at brentbbi@webtv.net.

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