Tags: Immigration | midterms | Senate races | immigration | amnesty | illegals

Anti-Illegals Fervor May Return to Haunt GOP

Anti-Illegals Fervor May Return to Haunt GOP
Anti-immigration activists protest outside of the U.S. Border Patrol Murrieta Station. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 October 2014 10:18 AM

The theme of illegal immigration has featured prominently in the campaigns of a number of GOP candidates as a way to rally the base during this election, but the strategy could ultimately backfire when Republicans seek to establish a clear position on the issue going forward, according to The New York Times.

In the aftermath of the election, the hard-line campaign messages surrounding immigration could divide the party between those who are looking to continue the reform effort versus those who insist that an overhaul is tantamount to amnesty.

In Arkansas, Kansas and New Hampshire, candidates have focused on the issue in their rhetoric and campaign ads even though it is largely irrelevant for the constituencies of these states, which have low levels of illegal immigrants and Hispanics.

In his New Hampshire race against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, GOP challenger Scott Brown has warned that illegal immigration at the Southwest border is one of the country's worst threats, and has focused on the theme in his campaign advertising. But just 5 percent of New Hampshire's population is foreign-born and 3 percent are Hispanic, the Times noted.

Brown has also accused Shaheen of supporting President Barack Obama's "amnesty plan" that would use an executive order to grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants.

Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, who is locked in a tight race against independent challenger Greg Orman, has been running an ad which shows several figures climbing what would appear to be a border fence. An announcer says, "Illegal immigration is threatening our communities and taking jobs away from Kansans who need them."

Just 6 percent of Kansans are Hispanic, the Times noted.

A number of conservative outside groups are also driving home the amnesty theme, according to the Times.

Citizens United is running ads in states such as Arkansas suggesting that Democrats are too lenient on those who have entered the country illegally. One commercial attacked vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor saying, "Mark Pryor voted against building a border fence? What was he thinking?"

Pryor's GOP challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, has also made immigration a central theme in the race.

Some in the party, however, believe the negative messages about illegal immigration will harm the dialogue about immigration reform during the next Congress and also undermine the party's position among Hispanics.

CNN's "Inside Politics" moderator John King noted this week that regardless of the outcome of the elections, the conservative grass roots is now so fired up about the issue that it will continue to be divisive in the months following the election.

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Illegal immigration as a campaign issue may be helping to rally the base for a number of GOP candidates this election, but the strategy could ultimately backfire when Republicans seek to go forward on the issue, reports The New York Times.
midterms, Senate races, immigration, amnesty, illegals, GOP
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 10:18 AM
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