GOP obsession with Obama’s immigration order will lead to loss in 2016

Felicia Persaud | 3/5/2015, 10:57 a.m.
Since the new GOP-controlled Congress took over in January, they have done nothing but focus on President Barack Obama’s immigration ...
Felicia Persaud

Since the new GOP-controlled Congress took over in January, they have done nothing but focus on President Barack Obama’s immigration order that is aimed to help millions of immigrants.

It’s becoming tiring now, especially because they have offered zero in the way of solutions to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country. They all realize they cannot simply deport 11 million-plus people—they neither have the resources to do it nor will the country’s economy withstand such a drastic removal of workers deeply entrenched in the day-to-day engine of growth. Regardless, they are fighting the president and doing nothing.

Friday, Feb. 27, Republicans again tried to get a standalone Senate bill passed that would block spending on the president’s November 2014 immigration order. Again they failed, getting only 57-42 votes, falling short of the 60 needed to clear a procedural vote.

Still not to be outdone, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to back down. According to Reuters, he immediately filed a motion to keep the bill alive. Why? One can only wonder if McConnell has nothing else to do. What about the Islamic State, the economy and the poor? Or is McConnell and his party so consumed with race-hate of the president and immigrants they refuse to see that the very strategy that they are pushing will destroy them come 2016?

The vote comes as Obama, in a town hall hosted by Telemundo and MSNBC, insisted that his executive actions on immigration would ultimately survive the legal challenges of Republicans. That, without a doubt, includes the recent court ruling against the law by conservative Texas Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

Yet, most GOP lawmakers and their right-wing supporters continue to run on what is undoubtedly an anti-immigration agenda. But immigrants are taking note. With 2016 just around the corner, they should take heed of the pearl of wisdom Obama offered them.

“The country is a nation of immigrants, and ultimately it will reflect who we are, and its politics are going to reflect who we are,” the president said in Miami.

The truth is, he was being too polite. What the president should have said to McConnell and company is that while they feel they are screwing him, the only people they’re really screwing are themselves, because in 2016, without the immigrant vote that they continue to alienate, they will not win the White House. In fact, they may never win the presidency again if they keep on this track, as America is no longer a land of white men.

Here are some fast facts the GOP should take note of the next time it feels inclined to bring up another vote on this bill:

• The number of foreign-born people in the United States is at an all-time high, at more than 40 million.

• Broken down by immigration status, the foreign-born population is composed of 18.6 million naturalized U.S. citizens or persons eligible to vote.

• Some 53 percent of the foreign-born population claimed their region of birth in Latin America and the Caribbean.

• Fifty percent of foreign-born voters do not identify with either political party so they are the swing voters who need to be won over, and immigration remains a key issue for the majority of registered immigrant voters.

What the new GOP Congress should be doing is endearing itself to the immigrant voting bloc by passing real, comprehensive immigration reform. Shut down the borders if you must, but give legal residency to the millions within. That’s how you will win in 2016. Anything else will ensure your party’s demise and alienation from the White House for many, many years to come.

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.