FEATURED:

If the GOP loses the House, immigration will be the reason why

If the GOP loses the House, immigration will be the reason why
© Getty Images

When President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoaquín Castro: Trump would be 'in court right now' if he weren't the president or 'privileged' Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Comey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony MORE’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) removed “Nation of Immigrants” from its mission statement last week, it sent yet another message to the world that while America is changing, some in the Republican Party aren’t changing with it.

The problem for the GOP is that this particular anti-immigrant message, on the heels of so many before it, is also being heard by suburban voters in swing House districts nationwide — the very people in the very districts who are poised to flip the House back to Democratic control. 

ADVERTISEMENT

For all the talk about Obama-Trump voters, there is a significant cohort of Romney-Clinton voters clustered in swing, suburban districts across red and blue states. These are educated, well-off, primarily white Americans in diverse communities who are turned off by nativist rhetoric and policy. In 2016, as Politico’s Jesse Ferguson pointed out, Clinton won communities that have historically been written off by Democrats, “places like California’s Orange County, Utah’s Salt Lake County, Texas’ Fort Bend County and Georgia’s Gwinnett and Cobb Counties.”

 

Just look at Republican John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonNASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon Texas New Members 2019 Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration MORE’s 7th district in Texas, which includes wealthy enclaves of Houston and upscale suburbs. CNN’s Ron Brownstein puts this district in his “Romneyland” category; a district that went to Romney by more than 20 points in 2012, and broke for Clinton by a point in 2016. Houston, which was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, has relied on immigrant workers to literally help rebuild the city. To put a finer point on it, the voters in Texas’ 7th District know and rely on the very immigrants the Trump administration would like to deport.

The failed campaigns of Republicans Ed Gillespie in 2017 (who conflated immigrants with MS-13), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House The 2020 presidential race: A 2004 redux? Beto O'Rourke seen as a top contender in 2020: poll MORE in 2012 (who proposed “self-deportation”), and Sharon Angle (whose nativist appeals fell short against Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidManchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield Poll finds most Americans and most women don’t want Pelosi as Speaker MORE in 2010) — are the most noteworthy harbingers of what may come in November. According to Cook’s Political report, 25 Republican districts are either leaning Democratic or are toss-ups. Some models show Democrats picking up an astounding 45-50 seats (they only need 24 to take back the House).

When you add up the energy of Democratic voters, with the concern among suburbanites for the limbo Dreamers face and the mean-spirited rhetoric the White House continues pushing, a perfect storm is brewing.

This is why nearly two dozen House Republicans held a press conference calling on Speaker Ryan to move Dreamer legislation a few months back. It’s also why Trump’s squandering of his Nixon-goes-to-China moment, that would provide him with a bipartisan victory that neither George W. Bush nor Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMedia once hated HW — before using him to jab Trump Republicans missed best shot on keeping promise to cut spending California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE could achieve, is so disappointing. 

None of this was inevitable for Republicans. With the strongest economy in two decades, a tax cut that is becoming more popular, and a foreign policy that most Americans support, the House should not be in play. But it is, and to a very large degree, it is because of how Republicans are treating the issue of immigration.

According to polls, nearly 90 percent of Americans support the protection of DACA recipients. Evangelicals, who make up a quarter of Americans and an influential conservative voting bloc, have been very vocal that any GOP immigration reform measure include protections for dreamers, and protection of families.

Key portions of the Republican electorate, from business leaders, to law enforcement, to the faith-community are unified in their goal of passing common-sense reform that protects Dreamers and secures the border. A consensus deal is not only the right thing to do politically, it’s the right thing to do morally, and it is in the best interest of American workers and their families.

You don’t have to look much further than Trump’s reading of “The Snake” to a raucous CPAC audience to understand why his administration no longer believes we should be a nation of immigrants. The president sees immigrants as threats, takers, as, ultimately, something other than Americans.

Fortunately, for voters across the country, particularly those in fast changing suburban districts, immigrants are something else. They are our children’s best friend, the family one pew over at church, the owner of the well-kept home down the street. Immigrants and their children are the founders of 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies.

Through his rhetoric and actions, Trump is passing up a chance to make history and putting Republican majorities at risk.

Ali Noorani is the executive director of the National Immigration Forum and author of the 2017 book “There Goes the Neighborhood.”