Ira Mehlman

Republicans are standing out on the ledge contemplating their next move. They have an air of desperation, having lost an election they believe they should have won. They are reckoning with the unpleasant reality that the nation’s fastest growing group of voters, Hispanics, doesn’t love them.

All of the experts are telling them that Hispanics will never love Republicans so long as they block the path to amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. Their advice is simple: Take a leap of faith that once you give in to the demands of those pushing amnesty for illegal aliens, you will land softly in the loving embrace of Hispanic voters.

Suddenly, amid the cacophony of voices urging them to jump emerges a voice of reason from, of all places, The New York Times. The Old Gray Lady is not known for having a soft spot for the Grand Old Party. But, nevertheless,an article in the paper’s business section offers some sobering advice for those in the GOP who think that amnesty will win them Hispanic votes.

“Hispanics are more liberal than the general population on economic matters, polls suggest, and more supportive of Big Government initiatives. Granting them citizenship would give them the vote,” writes reporter Eduardo Porter. For those Republicans who may be confused, that means they are not likely to vote for the party that stands for smallergovernment.

In fact, the Times surmises, enactment of amnesty for “11 million mostly poor illegal immigrants with relatively little education” would result in even bigger deficit financed government. “[C]hances are [amnesty] would cost the government money,” Porter notes. And probably lots of it.

It’s not as if the Republicans haven’t already figured this out on their own. Since the last go-round on amnesty in 2007, a new high ticket item has been added to the already daunting cost of legalizing millions of illegal aliens who would become eligible, over time, for means-tested entitlement programs.

With Obamacare coming online next year, the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff estimates that covering newly legalized aliens could increase the cost of that program by as much as $200 billion in its first decade. And even that may be a low-ball estimate because it is based on the assumption that overall spending caps on Obamacare are enforced. In the very real event that the caps are ignored, the price tag for covering amnestied aliens would grow to $300 billion in the first decade.

If the Republican Party is defined by any governing principle it is that taxpayers should be allowed to keep more their money and that the size and scope of government should be reduced. Throughout history, politicians and political parties have been willing to sell their souls and sacrifice the public good in the interest of winning an election.

But, as the Times points out, in embracing immigration reform with amnesty as its centerpiece, the Republicans would be selling their souls, sacrificing the public interest, and come away with even less chance of winning elections. For the Republicans, it amounts to a Faustian Bargain without the earthly delights.

Republicans cannot ignore the concerns of Hispanic voters and hope to win national elections. Every poll of Hispanic voters indicates that bread-and-butter issues – jobs, wages, quality education – are the crucial factors in deciding their votes. The Republicans must make the case that the best hope for economic advancement for Hispanic Americans lies in enforcing our immigration laws and ending the policy of family chain migration.

So long as our labor markets are flooded with large influxes of legal and illegal immigrants, whose skills and education levels are relatively low, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the existing generations of immigrants to realize their aspirations. There is a choice to be made. Either we can prioritize people who broke our immigration laws and the narrow political and economic interests that benefit from them, or we can do what is right for Hispanic citizens and legal immigrants, and their children.

The leadership of the Democratic Party has cast its lot with the people who have broken our laws because it serves their political fortunes. It is time for the Republicans to come in off the ledge and offer Hispanics and the rest of the American public a viable alternative. Jumping is really not a good option, as even The New York Times is telling them.


Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.