What better way for Republicans to honor our country’s independence than to berate some of its most vulnerable people?
In the news this past week was a story out of Murrieta, California. Murrieta is a conservative town in Riverside County, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Buses from Texas carrying 140 undocumented children and their families were stopped on their way into the city by nearly 300 protesters blocking the road, causing the buses to turn around and be rerouted to a detention facility in San Diego. The children were being sent to the Murrieta detention facility due to overcrowding in Texas, which has recently experienced a surge in child migrants from Central America, especially from the nations of El Salvador and Honduras.
This was not a spontaneous protest. It was not only inspired but was also encouraged by Republican mayor Alan Long who was concerned that Murrieta was one of the California towns designated to receive the undocumented children. Due to the overcrowding in Texas, California towns such as Murrieta and El Centro were scheduled to receive these children over the coming weeks where they would be processed before being placed under the supervision of ICE agents and would be required to report back to them within 15 days of their release. Long, in a press conference said, “Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities.” His call to action was joined by people from all over the region and was met by counter-protesters. Tensions were high, and there was even a reported incident of one man spitting on the face of another who opposed him.
This is just the latest incident in a series of ongoing questions over immigration reform at the federal level. With President Barack Obama now intent to use executive action to act due to Republican intransigence and John Boehner now threatening a lawsuit against the President, emotions are running high on both sides of the aisle on a run-up to this November’s midterm elections. Republicans have continued their age-old lies regarding undocumented immigrants in an effort to dehumanize them and fire up their xenophobic base. Despite the fact that Latinos makeup a powerful up-and-coming voting bloc, the Republican Party has refused to accept them as a viable and important part of a multi-ethnic America in the 21st century.
The problem for Republicans is that they can throw hissy fit after hissy fit all they want, but the fact is that the majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform and don’t see undocumented immigrants as a massive drain on our economy. Heck, they don’t even see the ‘drug mules’ with “calves the sizes of cantaloupes” as Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King would have us believe. As bad as Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run was, his self-deportation stance might very well have been his second biggest blunder of the entire campaign, after his infamous 47% recording. Even RNC chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged that it was a “horrific” comment to make, and it very well might have been the turning point for Romney to be even somewhat competitive for the Latino vote in this country.
In addition to the self-deportation fiasco, Republicans still can’t seem to fathom American support for immigration reform, more specifically, the treatment of the DREAMers. The DREAMers are the group of children who were brought here at a young age and have grown up doing everything a “typical American” would do. The vast majority of them know nothing of their home countries and there even exists a percentage of them who have no idea that they are undocumented. The DREAM Act has been a piece of legislation that has been floated since 2001 which would give these undocumented students a chance to eventually become citizens as long as they could meet the following criteria: Having entered the US before age 16, to have lived in the US for at least five consecutive years, for males to have registered with the Selective Service, to have graduated from high school or attained a GED, and to be of good moral character. The bill was even passed by Congress in 2010 with a 216-198 vote. However, Senate Republicans refused to get on board the bill and without any Senate Republican support the bill was unable to attain the 60 votes needed to head to the president’s desk to get signed into law.
As Republicans to continue to attack our nation’s immigrants, especially our child immigrants, they have failed to realize that their hard-line anti-immigration stance is not appealing to the average independent voter. The average independent voter recognizes that immigrants have played a valuable part in our nation’s history and that there needs to be something done for the eleven million undocumented immigrants already living here, especially the children. Openly advocating for policies like self-deportation or protesting against young children is not doing the Republican Party any favors and has even caused people like Bill O’Reilly to call out pundits like Laura Ingraham for having a “draconian” view on the topic. What Ingraham and today’s Republican Party don’t realize is that we are a nation of immigrants, we always have been, and we will continue to be. As the demographics continue to change and America continues to get less and less White, Republicans will have to realize that their anti-immigration stance is an electoral loser at the polls.
If they don’t realize this, the White House will stay blue for generations to come.