Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-Immigrant Movement Works to Shoot Down Rising Stars of the Republican Party

Domenic Powell • May 14, 2013

Frustrated by a very public renovation of the party to make it more inviting for conservative Latinos, the anti-immigrant movement has engaged in an all out war on Republican leadership.

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both of whom have been spoken of as 2016 presidential prospects, have been pilloried by the anti-immigrant movement in recent weeks. In March, NumbersUSA president Roy Beck said: “In one way, Rand Paul’s plan is far more radical and pro-illegal-immigration than anything proposed by Pres. Obama or the Gang of Eight, both of whom are at least promising workplace verification to cut off the jobs magnet that has created the giant illegal-alien population in the first place.” In the same post, Beck outlined “The Rand Paul Amnesty,” a fictitious platform Beck distilled from a speech Paul made to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Rubio, whom TIME Magazine featured on its cover as “The Republican Savior,” has been subjected to an onslaught from the anti-immigrant movement that venture beyond the racist into the realm of the bizarre. State contact groups for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) have been circulating a song called “The Amnesty Man” about Rubio made by the head of their Florida counterpart, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. The song stews with resentment and racial animus: “The Senator makes every bill he cooks satisfying for his people,” one verse finishes, “now talk about your dreams and wishes; soon you won’t be washing dishes.”

The GOP strategy during the 2010 mid-term elections and after was great for the anti-immigrant movement. Amid Tea Party fervor, the marketing of anti-immigrant views as authentically Republican ideas helped augment their influence within the party. In early 2012, Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute said, “Driven by a minority of activists in their party, the candidates have been drawn into an unhealthy competition to see who can sound the harshest in cracking down on low-skilled illegal immigrants from Latin America.” Later on in 2012, hoping to consolidate the small minority’s coup d’état, Kris Kobach flew to the Republican National Convention and enshrined their beliefs within the party platform.

The small minority, however, caused Mitt Romney to lose Latinos by the largest margin in the past three elections, and Republicans began to examine whether or not these hard-line positions were ever really Republican at all. Supporters of the DREAM Act in the past were, after all, Republicans as prominent as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and John McCain (R-AZ). A Pennsylvania Republican has introduced a bill granting undocumented youth in-state tuition, and the Grass Roots Tea Party of Nevada has come out in support of driving privileges for undocumented immigrants. Sens. Paul and Rubio—who were swept into office as Tea Party phenoms—clearly know that their own political futures depend on not being beholden to the anti-immigrant movement, and possibly the future of the rest of the party.

Obviously, the anti-immigrant movement is desperate to show that it can still punish some Republicans for swinging away from their position—at least for now. The question is: how much is the party willing to let them destroy in the process?

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