Immigration

GOP Rhetoric on Immigration in 2016 Will Be Different (and Better) Than it Was in 2012

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Credit: Engle Janice, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/wikimedia

U.S. News & World Report political reporter Lauren Fox wrote recently wrote an article with the headline "Jeb Bush Won't Be an Outlier on Immigration by 2016." Earlier this month Bush said that illegal immigration is often "an act of love."

While many Republicans may disagree with Bush's assessment, Fox's reporting highlights the reasons why Republican presidential contenders in 2016 may end up adopting less hard-line rhetoric when it comes to immigration than the rhetoric displayed in 2012 and 2011.

Fox quotes Republican strategist Lionel Sosa, who said that Republican 2016 contenders need to take Bush's lead on immigration:

"They should be taking Jeb's lead if they want to win in 2016," says Lionel Sosa, a Republican strategist who has worked on Latino outreach for a series of presidential campaigns. "I just don't know if we will see the Republican environment changing in the immediate future. We may need to lose another election to get it."

In 2012 Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Latino vote.

Another Republican strategist quoted by Fox dismisses the idea that Republican 2016 hopefuls will need to move to the right in order to secure the nomination:

"Not only is the primary going to have a different tone in 2015, [but] if Republicans win the Senate, you might even see conservative members leading the charge on immigration reform," says Alfonso Aguilar, a GOP strategist. "This idea that you have to move to the extreme right on immigration to win the primary in 2016 is bunk and nobody buys it."

Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a possible 2016 contender, has said that Bush "might have been more artful" when discussing immigration and added that "we can't invite the whole world."

It might be the case that Republican rhetoric on immigration in the 2016 primary season will be different than in the 2012 primary season, but it remains to be seen how voters will prioritize immigration during the next presidential campaign.

Polling from Pew shows that between 2008 and 2012 the percentage of voters who said that immigration was "very important" to their vote dropped from 52 percent to 41 percent. According to Gallup polling released earlier this year 50 percent of Americans say that it is either "extremely" or "very" important that President Obama and Congress deal with immigration.

Fox points out that while there are still immigration hard-liners in the Republican Party members of the GOP should take seriously comments on immigration from a former governor of a swing state who was backed by 56 percent of Latino voters in 2002:

There are certainly still immigration hard-liners in the Republican Party. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., are not going to soften their stance. This past weekend, Donald Trump appeared to be the most critical of Bush and he found many who agree with him during a tea party event. He got a big laugh for suggesting immigrants come for sex, but not for love.

But the Republican Party might not be laughing in 2016 if it fails to field a candidate that can make up what's been lost between the Republican Party and the Latino community. If the Republican Party wants to do better than the 27 percent of the Latino vote it got with Romney in 2012, it will need to take seriously the words of a candidate who won 56 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2002 re-election bid to be the governor of Florida – a major swing state to boot.

More from Reason on immigration here



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  1. In 2012 Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Latino vote.

    Not the right offerings to the free shit army?

    *runs away*

    1. No need to run away. How about this suggestion. We immediately pass a bill that blocks any form of welfare or government assistance to anyone who immigrates here, for the first 10 years that they are resident. And they can only receive government assistance after they have already worked and paid taxes for at least 5 years of that period?

      Then we also insist that able bodied American citizens aren’t working to get off their lazy asses and contribute to society?

      I know of people here who haven’t worked and have been on every form of gov assistance for years. And they say things like ‘Well, I could work, but I’d have to have at least 60k per year starting, because otherwise I couldn’t afford my current lifestyle’.

      And some people wonder why things are so fucked up.

      1. What part of free shit for votes are you not understanding?

  2. In 2012 Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Latino vote.

    I seem to get so many differing stories on the Latino vote. Some say they don’t necessarily vote Democrat. Some say Hispanic voters generally don’t want open borders. While I understand they’re not a homogeneous voting bloc, the other 73% voted for someone other than Romney for some reason.

    1. I read here yesterday that 73% of Hispanics voted Democrat because Rush Limbaugh said unkind things.

      1. I believe it. What I don’t get is why it’s not considered racist to assume that most members of a group have the emotional fragility of a 3 year old girl.

    2. Lots of Hispanics are pretty conservative people. But a lot of them also view the government as something that is supposed to give you stuff.

      Many of them also have a very naive view of the US government, at least when they first arrive here, as they think our government isn’t every bit as corrupt as the one they just ran away from. So combine those beliefs and then listen to the rhetoric of the left and you can see why so many of them get hoodwinked by the Dems.

    3. I seem to get so many differing stories on the Latino vote.

      Jeb Bush got 56% of the Latino vote when running for governor, so anyone saying it is impossible for Republicans to get around half of those voters is full of it.

      Granted, the vote in Florida includes a lot of Cubans, who have some experience with the effects of Communism, and so are more disinclined to vote against Democrats. And, Jeb Bush is MARRIED to a latina, which is solid evidence to voters that he isn’t prejudiced against them.

      But, getting half the Latino vote is entirely doable with the right candidate and the right policies.

      1. In 2002 most Democrats thought gay marriage was ridiculous. Means nothing now.

    4. Keep in mind that that’s 73% of Latinos who vote. A majority of eligible Latinos don’t bother voting, and that’s not even counting all the ones who aren’t citizens and thus can’t vote.

  3. “we can’t invite the whole world.”

    Isn’t that sort of what we did in the beginning? And that didn’t turn out too bad for us.

    Anyway, rhetoric from both teams is what it is, and all that it is, is rhetoric. There is no way team purple does anything to improve immigration or anything else. They fuck up everything that they touch.

    The only way to improve this country is to start repealing all the shit that they already fucked up.

  4. Its is sad, so sad, that people will hear this shit and think it means anything.

    There will be huge numbers of people who think (for good or ill) that this actually represents a sea-change in the GOP rather than more self-serving rhetoric.

  5. Some hispanic “strategists” said the GOP needs to pander to hispanics. What a shocking development.

  6. Earlier this month Bush said that illegal immigration is often “an act of love.”

    Like Episiarch violating my mom is an act of love?

  7. Alt-text =

    “The Ming Dynasty, We Aint”

  8. All this article says is that the Republicans will be smart to take a more conciliatory stand on illegal immigration in 2016. There isn’t the slightest evidence that they will do so.

  9. “we can’t invite the whole world.”

    Yes we can!

    But seriously, why the hell can’t we charge a nominal entry fee, get everyone a social secutiry card and start letting them al enjoy the wonderful world of taxation and surveillance the rest of us “legals” do. Its not like there’s not room. Hell, ship’em all to wyoming if ou’re concerned about space.

  10. Romney got the nomination by convincing conservative he got it about illegal aliens. Then he promptly forgot during the election and millions of conservatives forgot to vote.

  11. most of the illegals and their offspring will become Democrats who support big government race-mongering leftists. No Republican should support amnesty.

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