Why Does Immigration Reform Have Republican Candidates on Both Sides of the Fence?
By: Joseph Wade, Legal Assistant – Law Offices of Ally Bolour, APC
After President Barack Obama’s victory in the 2012 Presidential Election, the Republican Party finally seemed convinced their future success and winning the 2016 Presidential Election would require a major shift in the party’s stance on immigration reform in order to avoid alienating Hispanic voters. Sadly, the GOP base insisted on maintaining their nativist policies.
Senator Marco Rubio, a frontrunner with the chance to become the United States’ first Hispanic President, is trying to rally Latino voters behind him, even brushing up on his Spanish and appearing on Spanish-language television stations since announcing his campaign. One might assume Rubio’s strategy would include policies that Hispanic voters widely support. However, in a recent interview with Fox News, Rubio stated that border security should be the focus before any immigration reform takes place.
Former Governor Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, has also consistently shifted his position on immigration reform. Prior to 2009, Bush strongly supported the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Since 2009 his views have flipped between support for granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants, to explicitly opposing the granting of citizenship, calling it an “undeserving reward,” to now supporting the granting of “legal residency” to undocumented immigrants, but not citizenship.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has seen his popularity sore in recent years by distinguishing himself from other Republicans with his libertarian views. However, his stance on immigration reform, like other Republican frontrunners, is vague and premised on the belief that border security should precede any actual reform to immigration laws.
Governor Scott Walker may be a fresh face, but he is more of the same. He originally supported granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants, only to later change his mind. He currently believes all undocumented immigrants should have to return to their countries and legally apply to re-enter the U.S., while simultaneously wanting to make it more difficult for immigrants to enter the U.S. legally.
As the 2012 election revealed, whoever becomes the Republican nominee will likely not be elected President without support from Hispanic voters. Don’t be surprised when the winner of the Republican nomination suddenly becomes a champion of immigration reform once they face a democrat.