Republicans' Legal Attack on Latino Immigrants

Xenophobia will cost the GOP

By Dr. Alvaro Huerta
Published on LatinoLA: February 28, 2015

Republicans' Legal Attack on Latino Immigrants

Republican leaders have reached a new low point by using the judiciary to attack Latino immigrants.

As part of their offensive against President Obama's recent executive order on immigration, which provides temporary deportation relief for an estimated 5 million immigrants, Republicans have resorted to the courts in an attempt to block this desperately needed program.

Republicans in Congress experienced a political setback in early February 2015 with their failed legislative efforts to defund Obama's executive order. However, Republican governors from 26 states won a temporary federal injunction a couple of weeks later in Texas from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. It's no coincidence that these governors found a friend in the conservative Hanen, who was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush.

The Obama administration seeks to overturn this temporary injunction through the appeals court. But with their judicial recourse, Republican leaders have sent a clear message to Latino immigrants, in particular, and Latinos, in general, that they are not welcome in the GOP. And this clear and loud message is not only being heard by Latinos, but also by other ethnic groups with large immigrant populations, such as Asian and Pacific Islanders, who comprise about 1.5 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Given the dramatic demographic changes occurring in the United States, with Latinos representing the largest ethnic group and Asian and Pacific Islanders the fastest-growing, Republicans can't afford to alienate these voting blocs if they ever want to win the White House in 2016. According to recent census data, Latinos represent more than 54 million U.S. residents and Asian and Pacific Islanders consist of more than 19 million.

California's GOP learned its lesson the hard way when then-Gov. Pete Wilson supported Proposition 187 - a 1994 ballot initiative to deny undocumented immigrants essential services. The political fallout was devastating for Republicans. They have suffered at the ballot box for the past 20 years, with the result that Democrats now control the governorship, both the legislative chambers and the vast majority of statewide elected offices. Moreover, as Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has announced her retirement, viable Republican candidates to fill this important seat are nowhere to be found. This cautionary tale is one that national GOP leaders need to learn from.

If Republicans think that they can win the White House again without the vote of key ethnic groups, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

(Note: Originally written for The Progressive, this op-ed is syndicated nationally by the Tribune News Service.)

About Dr. Alvaro Huerta:
Dr. Huerta Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women's Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
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