Tags: gop | hispanics

Hispanic Leader: GOP Is in State of Emergency

By Ronald Kessler   |   Wednesday, 17 Dec 2008 12:17 PM

Hispanic support for the Republican Party is in a “state of emergency,” Mario López, president of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Fund, tells Newsmax.

“You have a situation where the conservative movement’s endangered, and the party’s in danger, if we don’t do better among this population,” López says.

“The Hispanic community is growing at a rapid pace — especially in key states,” López says. “Most of the growth is from births, not immigration. We have 50,000 Hispanics turning 18 every month. Texas is in danger of going Democratic in anywhere from the next 10 to 20 years. Florida has already flipped.

“So if you’re trying to win the presidency, let’s say, and you want to start off by writing off Florida, New York, California, Texas, Illinois, you’re going to have a really, really hard time trying to ever win.”

After spending much of this decade loosening their ties to the Democrats, Hispanics began a dramatic swing back during the debate over immigration reform, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The trend away from the Republican Party revealed itself in the 2006 congressional election and intensified in 2008. By a margin of 67 percent to 31 percent, Hispanic voters helped carry Obama to victory. This was a major shift from 2004, when President Bush won an estimated 44 percent of the Hispanic vote.

“The biggest reason, as I see it, has been tremendous reaction to the immigration debate of the last several years,” López says. “The party has basically made it sound like we don’t want Hispanics in the country.”

While many will disagree with that assessment, “If you hear the loudest voices, they do say they want to restrict both legal and illegal immigration,” López says.

Often, there is a difference between what conservatives say and how that is heard, he says.

“When no one is talking about streamlining legal immigration, then it makes it kind of hard to argue that that’s what you’re in favor of, and you’re only opposed to illegal immigration,” López says, adding, “The sad part about it is that as conservatives, we have a great story to tell on how big government has basically screwed up our immigration system.”

López advocates proposals similar to President Bush’s to create a path to eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants. The alternative, he says, is to in effect give illegals amnesty by doing nothing, as is the case now. Meanwhile, Democrats will be pushing legislation that will make the Bush proposal look moderate, he says.

Since the last election, “I’ve been encouraged, because I think that both in the party and in the movement, people recognize that we all need to look at this and do something about it,” López says.

What is needed is to “change the way we’re talking about things, to integrate Hispanic outreach into everything that the party does, with a serious, comprehensive strategy, including immigration reform.”

It’s simple, López says: Republicans “cannot be a governing majority again without bringing more Hispanics into the fold.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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