Latino advocacy group says GOP is all talk, no action on immigration

Who can forget where we all were a year ago, when the Republican National Committee unveiled its so-called "Autopsy Report"? That's the study commissioned by RNC Chair Reince Priebus to attempt to deal with the party's problems that became manifest i n the wake of Mitt Romney's loss to Barack Obama in the 2012 election — such as Romney's earning only 27 percent of the Latino vote.

Among the highlights of the study was the acknowledgement that voters saw the GOP as a “scary” group of “stuffy old men” who are “out of touch” with an increasingly diverse country. One of its most specific policy goals was for the party to broaden its appeal to Latinos by backing immigration reform, a priority hailed as a must-do immediately after Romney was declared the loser on Election Night.

But a year later, nothing has been accomplished on that front. That led one comprehensive immigration advocacy group to blast the GOP today for being AWOL on immigration.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said in a statement that “Since last year’s report, the Republican Party began to open the door to Latinos rhetorically, only to again slam the door in their faces.”
The paragraph listed below was a key section of that so-called autopsy:

“We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform….If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence. It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”

There certainly was momentum in 2013 to accomplish such legislation, with Florida's Marco Rubio being one of the leading Republican lawmakers to push for a comprehensive plan (one that Rubio has notably run away from ever since) in the Senate, which passed such a bill last June.

But, as everyone knows, that bill went nowhere in the House, with Speaker John Boehner occasionally making comments that the issue either is or is not dead, though nobody within the GOP ranks seems enthusiastic about bringing it up and potentially dividing the party — not in a year in which the GOP believes it can make substantial gains in both houses of Congress come this November.

“I’m not naïve to think that I’m going to sit here and carpet the world in two years,” Priebus told Politico on Sunday. “The question is: instead of getting 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, can I get 35? And instead of getting a few percentage points in the African-American community, can I get to 9 or 10?”

While campaigning with David Jolly in Seminole last month, Rubio called the lack of trust in President Obama "the single biggest impediment standing in the way to solving this problem." Rubio added that the GOP's collective lack of faith in Obama is also holding back tax reform, trade expansion and "anything that requires for the law to be enforced."

In any event, for immigration advocates, it's a year wasted.

“‘Autopsy is exactly the right word to describe the GOP’s progress on changing its anti-immigrant brand image over the past year," said Sharry.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]