In killing immigration reform, Republicans ensure their own demise

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)’s Republican Party has triumphed in killing immigration reform — and now the GOP will pay the price at the ballot box for a long, long time.

Republicans’ manipulation of the “border kids” crisis as yet another excuse to kill immigration reform is as transparently cynical as it is politically stupid.

The chorus of Republican anti-immigrant radicals speaks up about the migrant crisis with ever more acrid and bizarre suggestions that violate American law, not to mention any sense that ours is a moral nation. The hostility of the GOP towards Hispanics is clear.

Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), vice chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, proposed that the U.S. effectively cut ties with Latin America. Parading her fact-free ideology for all to see, Miller seems to be ignorant of the fact that Central American poverty, combined with the effect of the narco mafias that feed Americans’ drug habits, have profoundly destabilized the region. Her answer: disengage — with the resulting wave of refugees that would inevitably flee north.

Another anti-immigrant savant, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), seemed to have the ideal, albeit illegal, “solution” to the migrant crisis. Rogers asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, “Why aren’t we putting them on a bus like we normally do and send them back down to Guatemala?” As Elise Foley reported, when informed that U.S. law requires that minors be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, Rogers suggested that President Obama break the law and bus the kids back over the border.

And winning the award for Republican political malpractice is Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.). As Greg Sargent put it, Darrel is “nonsensically” exploiting the border kids crisis by calling on Obama to deport all the Dreamers. Like Steve King’s serial barrage of anti-Latino slurs, Issa attacks young, successful people who have proven that given the chance to study, work and serve in the military, they can make a great contribution to America.

It would seem obvious to most people that politicians attacking kids — whether migrants at the border or Dreamers in our society — will suffer the effects of political wind shear.

Considering that Latinos see immigration reform as a highly symbolic gateway issue, why would Republicans chose to further alienate the fastest-growing American voter group?

Many commentators in the right-wing media bubble write and speak about immigration and Latinos like scientists trying to understand some obscure species. They roll out polls that show Latinos are more interested in the economy than immigration. Is that different from any other voter group?

These pundocrats go terribly astray when they extrapolate Latino preoccupation with American economic growth as nullifying Hispanics’ deep passion for immigration reform. This is self-delusion on a titanic scale.

And then there is the virulent brand of anti-immigrant advocacy championed by Laura Ingraham and her equally paranoid colleagues on right-wing talk radio. While brandishing her giant gold cross proudly proclaiming her Catholicism (I’m Catholic, too), she goes on to speak about immigrants as if they were envoys of the devil. She should check in with Pope Francis to understand the Catholic Magisterium’s clear pro-immigrant teachings.

On her radio show, and from her perches as a political analyst at FoxNews and ABC News, Ingraham has crusaded for the most radical and inhuman immigration policies possible. In one notable segment from her show, she said that immigration from Mexico would make the United States into a “hellhole.”

Waving the flag of the old, pro-immigrant Republican Party of President Reagan, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) once again has warned about the disastrous consequences for Republicans if immigration reform fails because of a GOP blockade.

“I can’t tell you that we have a great shot at [passing immigration reform], but I know the consequences of failure,” McCain said as he went on to state that 2016 will look very grim for Republicans.

In fact, he is right. A recent poll from the highly respected Latino Decisions firm shows that Republicans will be saddled with the blame for killing immigration reform — and Latinos will move further towards the Democrats.

Considering that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) crashed on the rocks of self-deportation, one would assume that Republicans would stop drinking the anti-immigrant Kool-Aid and seriously think about their future.

But no. While the warning signs flash red, ideology has trumped rational self-interest.

As Steve King and his pals celebrate the demise of immigration reform, a rising storm of deeply angry Latino voters threatens to sink the national Republican Party.

Espuelas, a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, is a political analyst on television, radio and in print. He is the host and managing editor of “The Fernando Espuelas Show,” a daily political talk show syndicated nationally by the Univision America Network. Contact him at and via Twitter @EspuelasVox.

Tags Candice Miller Darrel Issa Immigration reform Laura Ingraham Mike Rogers Steve King

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video