Republicans Still Face a Choice on Immigration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican leaders who misread support for immigration and the changing demographics of our country do so at their peril.

In a Wednesday post, Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin argues that Republicans have descended into xenophobia through the nomination of Donald Trump. But many conservatives continue to see immigration as an opportunity to cultivate a thriving America.

“Republicans understood, or some of them did, after the 2012 presidential election that the GOP could not continue to put off Hispanic voters,” Rubin writes. “The GOP nevertheless nominated an openly xenophobic candidate bent on demonizing Hispanics. The very fact that the border problem is minor (net immigration now flows from the United States to Mexico) compared with the visa overstays (many from Asia) suggests Donald Trump is fixated on keeping certain illegal immigrants out — the ones he calls ‘murderers’ and ‘rapists.’”

However, conservative leaders who value immigrants tell a different story.

“[Immigration] lies at the heart of our understanding of the American idea,” said Jimmy Kemp, president of the Jack Kemp Foundation, ahead of a Miami event in September. “Are we a nation that holds out the flame of liberty to those who seek a better life in a free land, or have we reached our limits and must change who we have always been? Are we a city on a hill, or do we need to have a bunker mentality that protects Americans first? These are not simple or easy questions but must be courageously answered for the future of our nation and the world.”

Faith, law enforcement and business leaders across the country have emphasized their support for broad immigration reform at more than 230 events in 28 states this year.

From Davenport, Iowa, in January to Clemson, South Carolina, and Houston this week, these leaders continue to underscore the American value of welcoming hardworking immigrants, and to push for substantive immigration solutions.

“Donald Trump has cast doubt on our longstanding, shared values. But most Republican voters have not,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “After the election, Republican and Democratic leaders can and must come together and provide realistic, effective proposals. That’s the only way we’ll get practical solutions that break the inaction of the status quo.”



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