Linda Chavez

Beginning with a verse in the Gospel According to Matthew -- "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" -- the group is trying to get church members to read 40 Bible verses that describe the duty to treat strangers as neighbors. If they succeed, the conservative base in the faith community may begin to view immigrants, including illegal immigrants, differently.

The Republican Party knows it has a problem. The recently released report on the state of the party commissioned by RNC Chair Reince Priebus noted, "In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our party's position on immigration has become a litmus test measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door." Whether the party can do more than try to change its rhetoric is still an open question. But Paul might help lead the way.

"Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution," he told the Hispanic Chamber. "I am here today to begin that conversation."

Paul's conversion, like that of his namesake on the road to Damascus, could prove the miracle needed to bring new members to the flock. Solving the GOP's Hispanic problem is the easiest step in helping rebuild the party's dwindling numbers. Next, Republicans have to figure out a way to attract more women and young people, and unfortunately, no single position shift or piece of legislation can do that.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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