Republicans should focus on achieving tighter border security rather than opposing a pathway to citizenship when the Senate takes up immigration reform next week, says GOP strategist Karl Rove.
"Republicans must consider the impressions they will create," especially among Hispanic voters, Rove said Thursday in a Wall Street Journal column
. "There is growing public support for providing a pathway to citizenship for those now in the country illegally."
That includes growing support from Republicans, he said, citing an April poll by The Associated Press showing that support for citizenship rights increased from 50 percent in 2010 to 63 percent in April of this year.
At the same time, however, concerns about border security have also increased. "Since immigration reform was last considered in 2007, Americans have become more insistent on securing the border while also becoming more supportive of a path to citizenship and more immigration of high-skilled workers," he noted.
That's why, he said, there must be "clear, verifiable metrics" included in the legislation to ensure Americans that everything is being done to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country. He cited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's proposal requiring "90 percent of all incoming illegals to be apprehended" as one workable solution.
Rove made note of how important the immigration issue could be to Republicans in future elections by pointing out that 58 percent of Hispanics seem immigration reform as one of the most important issues facing the country, topping everything else.
"A January Latino Decisions survey suggested that 42 percent of Hispanics would vote Republican or be more likely to if the GOP 'took a lead role' in passing comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship," he wrote.
"Many Hispanics won't be open to Republicans until it is resolved," Rove added.
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