Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

November 23, 2012

The amnesty fantasy

The networks had barely called the election for President Barack Obama before GOP elites rushed to embrace an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Getting killed by almost 3-1 among Latino voters understandably concentrates the mind, but it's no reason to lose it. The post-election Republican reaction has been built on equal parts panic, wishful thinking, and ethnic pandering.

It's one thing to argue that amnesty is the right policy on the merits. It's another to depict it as the magic key to unlocking the Latino vote. John McCain nearly immolated himself within the Republican Party with his support for amnesty and did all of four points better among Latino voters in 2008 than Mitt Romney did in '12, according to exit polls.

What is the common thread uniting McCain, the advocate of "comprehensive" immigration reform, and Romney, the advocate of "self-deportation"? They are both Republicans supporting conservative economic policies. Surely, that had more to do with their showing among Latinos than anything they did or didn't say about immigration.

According to Census Bureau data, among native-born Hispanics, 50 percent of all households with children are headed by unmarried mothers. About 40 percent of all households receive benefits from a major welfare program. This doesn't mean that the GOP shouldn't try to appeal to persons in these households. It does mean that they aren't natural Republican voters.

Latinos tend to have liberal attitudes toward government. Take health care. An ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions poll of Latinos conducted on the eve of the election found that 61 percent of Latinos supported leaving Obamacare in place. Sixty-six percent believed government should ensure access to health insurance. This might have something to do with the fact that 32 percent of non-elderly Latinos lack health insurance, about twice the national average.

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