At a time when Republicans have Democrats playing defense on Obamacare, jobs and the economy, the GOP is inexplicably ceding political ground to the Democrats on an issue that can only provide more votes for that party and possibly lead to a permanent Democratic majority.
Meeting in Cambridge, Md., last weekend for what they called -- with no little irony -- a "retreat," Republican leaders signaled they are open to considering some sort of legal status for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who have overstayed their visas or violated American law to get here.
But exactly who are the illegals? According to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, "Mexicans make up over half of illegal immigrants -- 57 percent of the total, or about 5.3 million. Another 2.2 million (23 percent) are from other Latin American countries. About 10 percent are from Asia, 5 percent from Europe and Canada, and 5 percent from the rest of the world."
Republicans have convinced themselves that Hispanics are a "natural" constituency for their party because they are hard workers, religious and family-oriented. Statistics from the Pew Research Center suggest the opposite may be true.
According to Pew, 53 percent of babies born to Hispanic immigrants are to single mothers, about twice the rate of whites. As for Republican "family values," Pew found a majority of Hispanics, 53 percent, support same-sex marriage. As a great many illegals are poor, their strain on the welfare, health care and education systems is considerable.
In a recent column, Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative political analyst, cited an American National Election Study that asked Hispanics their views about the free market vs. big government solutions to problems. Schlafly noted, "Only 17.9 percent of Hispanics responded 'the less government the better,' and 85.3 percent said 'a strong government involvement is required to handle economic problems.'"
This is not the profile of a future Republican voter.
The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) says illegals now make up 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, or about 10.5 million people. According to CIS, "Nationally, illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 9.9 percent of all persons in poverty, compared to their 4.9 percent share of (the) nation's total population."
With lower incomes, illegals rely more on welfare programs. CIS says in Texas, "58 percent of illegal households collect some sort of welfare," with "49 percent using food assistance and 41 percent using Medicaid." In California and Illinois, reports CIS, "55 percent use welfare."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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