Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Immigration and the future of the Republican Party.

I love Kathryn Jean Lopez over at NRO and usually agree with everything she writes. But she chides Michael Gerson for chiding the Republicans on how they are handling the illegal immigration debate. I think Gerson makes great points.

I think it's time we listened to some facts about the Hispanic voter. Whether we like it or not, Hispanic citizens are affected by how we handle the illegal debate. As Gerson points out in his article, "Bush won about 35 percent in 2000. In 2004, Bush ran in the Latino media on the slogan "Nos conocemos," or "We know one another" -- and both he and Republicans in Congress averaged over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote."

This is important. We ceded the black vote to the Democrats long ago. Let's not do the same with Latinos. I think it was wrong for Republican candidates to skip the Univision Republican debate. It's important that we get our message out to Hispanics. I'm not saying the candidates should change their message of ending illegal immigration, but to explain their position clearly to the Hispanic community. Because if we don't do that, the MSM and the left will do it for us. And their spin is decidedly bigoted.

We made this mistake with the black community. Even people who disagree with you politically want to hear your side (except for the far left crowd). I believe that although many in the Hispanic community may have great sympathy for those who come here illegally from Mexico, because they know what these people are escaping from, they are still willing to understand why this issue is so polarizing. Republican candidates need to explain about the drain on social services that close hospitals for example. They need to hear our candidates explain the national security concerns with lax border control. These people are citizens too. They care about these things as much as we do. We do ourselves no favors by not standing in front of them and clearly defining our positions.

As Gerson points out, Hispanics are the fastest growing groups of American voters. The picture Hispanic voters are getting now of Republicans is harsh. This is just a terrible thing politically. It's time for Republicans to step up to the plate and let Hispanics who are citizens know that our concerns are their concerns and that together we can find solutions to illegal immigration.

We have a small window of opportunity here and then it's gone. And like the black community before them, we will give the Democrats a voting bloc they can count on forever.

More here.

Update: I just want to make clear that I don't agree with Gerson in that we need to somehow become pro-amnesty to not look bigoted. He's wrong there. We need only to get our message out there. Illegal immigration is wrong and needs to stop. It's really that simple.