The GOP Needs Hispanic Voters to Win

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On November 7th, 2012, I remember sitting in my living room, getting in the daily dose of the news before it was time to leave for school. I was in 11th grade at the time and the election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney the night before had kept me up late.

An avid Conservative at the time, I watched the news looking to see where the GOP had gone wrong.

Mitt Romney had only recieved 21% of the Hispanic vote in comparison to Barack Obama’s 78%. This was drastically low from 2004 where George W Bush received 40% of the Hispanic vote, nearly twice Romney’s amount.

Many attributed Romney’s poor performance to comments he made regarding immigration where he said,“The answer [to undocumented immigration] is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said. “We’re not going to round them up.”

Romney’s comments were seen as harsh and out of touch from the realities undocumented immigrants face.

“Self-deport? What the heck does that mean?…I absolutely advocate for comprehensive immigration reform…Republicans want to be tough and say, ‘Illegals, you’re gone.’ But the answer is a lot more complex than that.” That statement did not come from some left-wing reporter or DNC strategist, but from the Republican Governor of a border state. The Governor, a Hispanic woman named Susana Martinez, was a woman many saw as the future face of the GOP.

Newt Gingrich also criticized Romney’s comments claiming that they cost Republicans the election: “If Mitt Romney had gotten 36% of the Hispanic vote, he would have won the majority of the popular vote…I said we’re not going to deport grandmothers who’ve been here for 25 years. Romney came and said, ‘Well they’ll self-deport.’” Gingrich then called self-deportation,”The most anti-human phrase you can imagine.”

After that election, it seemed that some Republicans were starting to get it on immigration.

Right after the election, Jeb Bush said,”You have to deal with this issue. You can’t ignore it. And so, either a path to citizenship, which I would support and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives; Or a path to legalization, a path to residency of some kind.”

Marco Rubio and former Republican Presidential Candidate, John McCain along with 2 other Republican Senators joined 4 Democratic Senators in pushing for a ‘Gang of 8’ bill that granted a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Mike Huckabee, in addition to signing the DREAM Act which granted in-state tuition to undocumented students in Arkansas,  also advocated a path to citizenship saying,”I don’t believe that it is a just thing to punish someone who had nothing to do with the breaking of the law…What I want to do is see, what can we do to put that person in a position where they do abide by the law and become a citizen? I would like that person to become a very generous tax-paying citizen.”

In July 0f 2013, Scott Walker said, “If people want to come here and work hard and benefit, I don’t care whether they come from Mexico or Ireland or Germany or Canada or South Africa or anywhere else…I want them here.” When asked whether he thought America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants could be granted citizenship given the right fines, waiting periods andrequirements, Walker replied,”Sure. I mean, I think it makes sense.

Chris Christie, who had also signed the DREAM Act stated that in 2010 that,”they[The Federal Government] have to put forward a common sense path to citizenship for [undocumented] people.”

Unfortunately, these candidates have quickly shifted their stances. 6 candidates including Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker have said that they oppose birthright citizenship.

Christie has shifted his rhetoric, now advocating that we track non-Citizens in our country “like FedEx packages” stating,”You go on online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is.”

Donald Trump’s comments have been flat-out xenophobic reforming to undocumented immigrants as “drug dealers,” “thugs”, and “rapists”.

Scott Walker has advocated building a wall not only on the Mexican border, but also on the Canadian border.

With Hispanic voters now being America’s largest minority, it begs the question of how Republicans plan on winning the general election with such outrageous rhetoric. Republicans seem to forget that the last time they won the Presidency was with 40% of the Hispanic vote.

As the immigration debate goes on, it is going to be a very grave mistake for candidates who actually want to win the Presidency to make the same mistake of 2012 and alienate Hispanic voters with their anti-immigration rhetoric.  Not only is immigration reform the right thing to do,  it is necesary for the GOP’s survival.

About author

Hamzah Raza

Hamzah Raza is a junior from Lawrenceville, New Jersey in the College of Arts and Science. He has been interested in politics since he could speak and has worked on campaigns for various candidates throughout the years. Raza is also fluent in English, Urdu and Hindi, and currently learning Arabic, having spent 2 and a half months learning Arabic at Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan over the summer. He also knows how to juggle.

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