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It’s not surprising that there are some prominent conservatives who are willing to betray the American taxpayer to get a new amnesty for 15 to 20 million illegal aliens. But do they have to add insult to injury by lying about amnesty’s impact on the Republican Party?
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist gave enthusiastic backing to a new group formed for the express purpose of pushing new amnesty legislation in alliance with congressional Democrats and the Obama White House. When everyone else is declaring amnesty dead in the water for 2010, Norquist and his business-lobby friends ride to the rescue.
But what makes the new “Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles” especially deceptive and troublesome are the lies Norquist and his allies must tell about the so-called “Hispanic vote” to make this gambit credible. The mantra for the new amnesty scenario is a seductive political pragmatism: Republicans are being told they must support a new amnesty or “lose the Hispanic vote for the next 50 years.”
That dire warning is built on demographic lies and myths about “what Hispanics want,” but all of the evidence points in the opposite direction. The amnesty agenda is not only bad policy for America, it is suicidal politics for the Republican Party.
The proponents of this phony “political realism” must indulge in two falsehoods to make their case. First, they say amnesty is a necessity on partisan political grounds. Then, in order to mitigate the crassness of that argument, they claim that it is also good policy because the Latino culture is one of “deep conservative, pro-family values.” Neither claim is true.
As University of Maryland political scientist James Gimpel has shown, new immigrants vote Democrat by a two-to-one margin after becoming naturalized citizens. This ratio is even higher for immigrants from Mexico and Central America, the origin of 80 percent of those who would benefit from a new amnesty. It is an act of masochistic self-delusion to believe that the voter registration and party affiliation patterns of the last 50 years will suddenly be reversed, and it is an act of utter stupidity for Republican leaders to adopt an electoral strategy based on that self-delusion.
Hispanic “conservative family values” are greatly overstated, as Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald has demonstrated in several groundbreaking studies. For example, as the Economist highlighted in a March 2008 story, half of all Hispanic children born in California to teenage mothers are born out-of-wedlock, a rate higher than out of wedlock births to black and white women.
Another popular fabrication is the myth that George Bush’s popularity in Texas and his 40 percent share of Hispanic voters in 2004 were due to his support for liberalized immigration. As even that bastion of liberalism, the New York Times, pointed out in a story a few days after the 2004 election, the Bush-Cheney ticket appealed to Hispanics on the basis of traditional Republican themes of economic empowerment, education reform and national security. Not one dollar was spent by the Bush campaign on paid advertisements in Hispanic media offering immigration reform as a reason to vote Republican. Did the super-pragmatists running that 2004 campaign know something the geniuses at the RNC don’t?
Even the polls conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center undercut the “Hispanics vote” mythology. In polls of likely Hispanic voters in the summer and fall of 2008, immigration reform ranked sixth or seventh on the list of priorities – far behind the issues that concerned all Americans, like jobs, the economy, schools and terrorism. A new Zogby poll shows that among Hispanics, 65 percent think there are plenty of Americans available to do unskilled jobs –employers just need to pay more.
The politically inconvenient truth is there is no “Hispanic vote” except in the minds of political hucksters and open-borders lobbyists like La Raza. Like the old saying goes, if you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
The amnesty lobby’s betrayal of the Republican Party is second only to the betrayal of the American taxpayer. As Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation showed in his landmark 2007 study, each immigrant household headed by an individual of less than a high-school education imposes a net burden on the taxpayer of $19,587. That’s the difference between what they pay in taxes and what they cost the public treasury in services.
It is beyond amazing that an organization supposedly dedicated to “tax reform” can be promoting a policy that only increases the tax burden of American citizens. We can understand why big business might see a benefit in guaranteeing an endless supply of cheap labor through open borders and a new amnesty, but the American taxpayer is the victim in that scenario.
Here is a modest suggestion, one I believe would be endorsed by both tea-party patriots and soccer moms. Republican leaders should appeal to Hispanic voters on the same basis and the same issues as they appeal to all voters – through policies that are good for America.
Trying to fashion an immigration platform based on a stereotype promoted by the open-borders lobby is a stupidity that defies common sense. Unless, of course, Republicans have a death wish.