Mitt Romney turned Hispanic voters off with his inflammatory remarks and rhetoric over the nation’s immigration issues, according to Brad Bailey, CEO of the Texas Immigration Solution.
“He made comments like self-deportation, ‘If they don’t do that, I’m going to make them feel the pain.’ That’s the type of rhetoric that does more harm than good,’’ Bailey told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
Watch the exclusive interview here.
“Let’s look at the problem, address the problem and look at the whole problem, and that’s what Republicans want and Mitt Romney could’ve easily done that.
“Unfortunately, the primary process has really construed the debate and we’re talking about it now in a more broad base term as to how we solve the problem versus complain about the problem.’’
Bailey — whose group is a non-profit organization of business and community leaders who have joined together to promote conservative, market-based immigration reform — said it is “the rhetoric that surrounds the immigration issue,’’ that is the problem in moving towards a solution.
“The immigration issue, over the last seven to eight years, has to turned into the third rail of politics inside the Republican Party,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our primaries, the immigration issue gets thrown out there in this rhetoric. It’s complaining about the problem versus solving the problem.’’
Bailey successfully advocated for Republicans to endorse a new, but controversial, guest-worker program and its national platform that allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers for seasonal jobs when American workers aren't available.
And Bailey is now attempting to steer the GOP toward free market immigration solutions.
“Texas is the perfect place to kind of start this debate. We have over 12 hundred miles of direct border with Mexico,’’ he said.
“Like Arizona, we have a lot of the same exact problems that they have so having a strong border security component is very important, but also looking at the whole entire problem, not just the enforcement-only portion of the immigration debate.
“We’ve successfully passed a national guest worker program on the Republican Party of Texas platform, as well as the national platform, in which we say we value the American worker first. We believe they should be able to have the first opportunity at every job available.
“If we can’t find an American worker, only then would be go the guest worker route and looking at the whole entire problem versus just a portion of the problem. That free market approach really resonated in the Republican Party of Texas convention and people wanted to address the problem versus complain about the problem.’’
Some critics have criticized the guest worker program, saying it treated immigrants as second-class citizens who would have no hope of ever gaining citizenship.
A Pew Hispanic Center study released Wednesday predicts the number of eligible Latino voters will swell from 24 million today to 40 million by 2030, a number that doesn’t include illegal immigrants and permanent legal residents.
“That is why Texas is ground zero to address this problem. We uniquely understand it,’’ Bailey said.
“I’m in the restaurant business. I’m not a politico by any stretch of the imagination but I see the rhetoric damaging any ability for our party to reach out to the Hispanic community.
“We align on many different issues from religious freedoms to pro-life to family values to entrepreneurship but this one issue of immigration has absolutely hindered any ability for us to reach out to that community. It’s a growing demographic.
“It’s something that we need to not just pander to during election cycles. We need to really reach out and grow the relationship with the Hispanic community. George W. Bush did that in 2000 and he did that in 2004.’’
Bailey said that since President Bush’s outreach, “we’ve become a party of no, of complaining about the problems but conservatives can really reach out to this growing population and welcome them into our part versus push them away.’’
He said the economic sting of illegal immigration is profoundly felt by the Lone Star State, which sits on the border of Mexico.
“Recently, I went to Kingsville, Texas down in Brooks County and saw firsthand the devastating effect of our national borders not being secured,’’ Bailey said.
“ I’ve seen what it’s done to ranches in which fencing is being broken, homes are being broken into, people are dying on farms that are smuggled in and then lied to that Houston is a couple of hours north of the border which is not the case.
“ It is a devastating effect on our law enforcement, on the whole gamut. But we’ve got to make sure the borders are secure and I’m first and foremost to say that.’’
He said he is in favor of “putting state militia or a state agency on the border to make sure that it is secure.’’
In addition, “I’m for rededicating equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan to give it to local and state law enforcement agencies to make sure it’s secure. I’m for funding registered militia men that are registered with the state.
“If the federal government can pay for Blackwater to secure Iraq, by God, they can pay a state militia person in Texas to make sure the border’s secured.
“That’s our first priority and it starts with that but also looking at the guest worker program as a component of border security because the economic magnet is what is driving a lot of people here. If we gave them a way to cut the red tape, that helps the border security question.’’
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