I'll save you some suspense. The answer is: more tone deaf drivel from the right. Let's recap, how we got to this point. Part of President Obama's 2008 victory was due in part to the changing demographics of America and particularly the emergence of the Latino vote. Immigration is a major, if not the major issue for Latino voters and giving the Republicans recent history of blocking comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007, it was no surprise that Latino voters backed Obama over McCain by 67% to 31%. Then in the mid term elections of 2010, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat Majority Leader, facing daunting negative approval ratings in his reelection bid, energized and mobilized the Latino community in Las Vegas, who turned out and supported Reid over his Republican rival Sharron Angle 90%-8%. The Latino vote in Nevada in 2010 was 12% of the total, making the difference in a race which many believed could not be won by Reid. Ms. Angle, universally considered a right wing asshat, did herself no favors by portraying immigrants as thugs sneaking through a fence with ski masks over the faces coming in to rape our children and steal our stuff.
As the nation braced for the 2012 presidential election, there was much speculation of what price Obama was going to pay for not fulfilling his promise to get immigration reform through a deadlocked Congress. But as the Republicans began the often hilarious process of selecting their candidate, it became clear that meaningful and progressive immigration reform was on nobody's agenda. (Read my September 23, 2011 posting below). Poor Rick Perry was almost tarred and feathered for supporting a Texas provision to allow DREAMers to attend college in Texas and pay resident tuition. Clearly the Republicans thought the country wanted a leader that was not only well groomed, but one who would create a climate so hostile in America that undocumented immigrants would simply give up and "self deport". To give credit where credit was due, "self deportation" was Romney's brainchild--along with proclaiming the illegal Arizona "papers please" law "model legislation" and hired its fanatical author (Kurt Kobach) as his chief immigration consultant. By the time Romney secured the Republican nomination, he tacked so far to the right that even some of his own supporters feared he would fall off the edge of the earth. Then, in June of 2012, Obama announced his administration's policy to grant deferred action to DREAMers--a move clearly designed to shore up Latino support, and immigrant communities all over America celebrated.
So then came November and the elections. The results were surprising to almost no one except Republican strategists. Obama increased his 2008 advantage over his opponent among Latino voters 72%-23% . In Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia--all states won by Obama--he increased his numbers over 2008 substantially. Overall, the Latino vote grew from 9% to 10% of the national total. In the hand wringing and finger pointing that has ensued since the election it is clear that many Republican leaders and strategists, including John Boehner, Haley
Barbour, Fox News gasbag Sean Hannity and even the increasingly irrelevant Donald Trump have “evolved” their positions and voiced
support for a pathway to citizenship—or at least some sort of legal
status. Sen. John McCain, who backtracked on his 2006 and 2007 leadership on the topic to
run for president in 2008 now agrees with calls for comprehensive reform.
Then yesterday, retiring Senators Kyl and Hutchinson convened a press conference to give us all our first post election peek at the GOP's newly retooled thinking on immigration reform and by extension, the Latino vote. After a day to digest the bill, dubbed the ACHIEVE Act, it is clear that Republicans have learned absolutely nothing from the election. The measure, which is essentially a watered down version of the DREAM Act, would requires applicants to
apply for three different visa programs over several years and does not include a clear path to citizenship for the DREAMers. According to Ms. Hutchinson, “it doesn’t allow
them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the
rules of our laws today, it doesn’t keep them from applying under
the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.” It is worth noting that the key provisions of both the DREAM Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are predicated on the notion that the DREAMers were brought into the U.S. as children, and are innocent of any wrongdoing. Senator Kyl, however, stole the headlines of the day by indicating that DREAMers should just marry American citizens, which he said many undocumented
immigrants could be likely to do because they're young and "in this
country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens." Incidentally, it is a federal crime to marry for the purpose of gaining an immigration benefit.
To sum it all up: Republicans failed to defeat a President who presided over four years of economic malaise, didn't grasp that voting Americas are not just rich white men, got defeated in no small measure because of their own anti-immigration policies, and then with the stark post election numbers staring them right in the face, this ACHIEVE Act is the best they can come up with? Truly, it makes one wonder whether or not the Republicans even want to be in the conversation going forward, let alone the White House.