October 1, 2007


Immigration Losers: A new study shows the heavy price the GOP paid for "get-tough" border politics. (RICHARD NADLER, October 2, 2007, Opinion Journal)

In my recent study for the Americas Majority Foundation entitled "Border Wars: The Impact of Immigration on the Latino Vote," I document not what Hispanics opined, but how they actually voted, given a clear choice between advocates of "enforcement first" and comprehensive immigration reform. The results, based on returns from 145 heavily Hispanic precincts and over 100,000 tabulated votes, indicate this: Immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.

The congressional election of 2006 provided a unique opportunity to gauge Hispanic voter behavior. In three congressional districts of the Southwest, two of them on the border, Republican candidates ran on an "enforcement-only" platform. In each case, this constituted a departure from previous congressional representation. And in each case, Hispanic support for the Republican candidate collapsed from 2004 levels.

Former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona was an architect of comprehensive immigration reform. His retirement in 2006 precipitated a five-way primary in which Randy Graff prevailed with 42% of the vote. Mr. Graff, supported by the deportationist Minutemen Civil Defense Corps PAC, lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, 42%-54%. Ms. Giffords aligned herself with the comprehensive reform positions of Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain. Among the heavily Hispanic precincts of Cochise County, Rep. Kolbe carried 43% of the vote in 2004. Mr. Graff's share of the vote in those precincts shrank to 18%.

In Texas, former Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla, chairman of the powerful House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, was the paradigm of Republican Hispanic success--until he voted for Rep. Sensenbrenner's "enforcement-only" bill. In the heavily Hispanic counties of Dimmit, Presidio, Val Verde, Maverick and Zavala, Mr. Bonilla's support dropped to 30% in 2006 from 59% in 2004. He lost the district to Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, 46%-54%.

In 2004, Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth, the flamboyant incumbent of Arizona's Fifth District, defeated his Democratic rival 59%-38%. His 2006 book "By Any Means" described his conversion from advocacy of comprehensive immigration reform to a deportationist viewpoint. Campaigning on enforcement-only, Mr. Hayworth was defeated by his Democratic challenger, Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, 46%-50%. Mr. Hayworth's majority-white district provided a test of whether a deportationist platform would attract a strong backlash vote among non-Hispanic whites. It did not. In the Hispanic influenced, majority-white precincts of Maricopa County, Mr. Hayworth's vote share declined to 36% in 2006 from 48% in 2004.

In these three races, Republicans' vote share in heavily Latino precincts dropped 22 percentage points.

What does this mean nationwide? Republicans' presidential Hispanic vote share increased to 40% in 2004 from 21% in 1996. In 2004, Latinos comprised 6% of the electorate, but 8.1% of the voter-qualified citizenry. With the partisan margin shrinking, the incentive for major Hispanic registration efforts by either party was scant.

That changed in 2006, when the GOP's Hispanic vote share declined by 10%. And, as we have seen, the drop was twice as precipitous where Republicans disavowed comprehensive immigration reform. With the huge wedge in vote share that "enforcement-only" opened, the cost-effectiveness of voter-registration efforts improved dramatically--for Democrats.

In recent years, Democratic Party operatives have conducted registration drives in urban communities that boosted African-American turnout to 65% from 23%. Republicans, should their national ticket adopt "enforcement-only," can expect Democrats to wage similar Hispanic campaigns in the most hotly contested political real estate of 2008. Such standard political operations will more than erase Republican majorities in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Iowa, and may endanger the GOP electoral hold on Arizona as well.

That is the short-term fallout Republicans may suffer from "enforcement-only." But the election of 2008 marks the beginning of the political attrition, not its end.

2012 wouldn't be too late to recover, but it would have been helpful on this and the related Life issues had Jeb Bush been running for president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2007 11:27 PM

Those who oppose Bush on immigration reform do not care about the other socially conservative issues, such as abortion, because they are "conservative" from fear and jealousy, not love.

The Republicans may have left Egypt, but they are still wandering about the wilderness--give it another 40 years.

Posted by: Randall Voth at October 2, 2007 1:44 AM

No way, the visceral reaction against another Bush in the White House would have drowned out any policy pronouncements, no matter how much you favor those policies.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2007 8:27 AM

Yes, Hillary could have used that to great advantage, eh?

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2007 10:03 AM

The WSJ really had to stretch to make this point, didn't they? Methinks it's a little silly to worry about one congressloser's redrawn district (Bonilla) and another congressloser's inability to keep his foot out of his mouth (Hayworth) when the GOP managed to lose 4 seats in the whitest parts of Pennsylvania.

And we could stretch that loser problem in nice, white states like, oh, New Hampshire.

Posted by: Brad S at October 2, 2007 11:01 AM

The more important article in the WSJ was the front page piece on losing the business class as well.

This post covers the immigration issue, but the cuts are much deeper and much more damaging than that issue alone.

Hillary is the best thing Republicans have going for them - maybe the only thing.

The idea that Jeb will be rejected based upon his last name is pretty silly.

A nation that goes Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton isn't going to change absent a cataclysmic event.

It is far more likely that a Clinton win virtually guarantees Jeb the job in 2012. He should even start campaigning for her.

Posted by: Bruno at October 2, 2007 1:18 PM

Who cars if you lose an aging white state with no people?

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2007 2:20 PM


Voter registration is growing among Hispanics as more become citizens and more become enraged at anti-immigrant policies.


Several decades ago, immigrants from Hispanic origin came to the USA. They didn’t bother to participate in politics. They came to work and nothing else. Why to bother if the country was doing OK. They didn’t speak the language very well and they thought let’s leave politics in the hands of those who are in power. Working and keeping a job was their main goal. Many even didn’t bother to change their immigrant status as residents.

But a couple of years ago, particularly this year, something happened. Because they cannot be recognized or distinguished by appearance, with the so-called illegals, they started to realize that they had to become citizens to obtain a higher level of protection. They realized that they were being demonized. Many of them are coming to vote for the first time.

Some of this population belongs to the group that came with the amnesty offered by President Reagan in 1986-1988. They too started to become citizens. There is no way that anyone can identify an illegal alien just by looking at them. You cannot tell who is an American citizen just by looking. Latino voters are tired of getting treated as something less than real Americans.

They could be legally here; they could have lived in the U.S. for generations. The only marker is skin color. The effect of the immigration debate on many Latino voters has been to make them feel like their Americanness is being questioned, even if they have been here for many generations.

The rampant xenophobia encased in fear of terrorism has made it critical for the legal immigrants, once illegal, to acquire the status that would grant them immunity from narrow legal persecution. However, it is not strange that in this xenophobic wave these people are feeling being threatened and insulted..

In the meantime, the Republicans had their chance for about 6 years to make a statement that the republican party would take care of the American people and they really showed they don't care by their non-actions and clearly directed actions against inmigrants. However, it is not only what Republicans say; it is also what they don’t say. Republicans have been filibustering everything that comes up in the Senate.

It is true that some Democrats such as Jim Webb, Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill vote with the majority of Republicans to kill the Senate immigration compromise, without offering a realistic and achievable alternative that would establish a more humane policy.

But, it is also undeniable that the most vicious, the most wretched, the most offensive, the most revolting, the most ruthless, the most vilifying, the most repulsive attacks have come and are still coming from Republicans.

Just a few examples to illustrate it.
1) Sensenbrenner wanted the criminalization of these people.
2) Newt Gingrich, Former House speaker, who coined Spanish as the Language of the gheto
3) Fred Thompson just slammed Cubans, suggesting that they come to America not in search of freedom, but to bring “suitcase bombs.”
4) Dana Rohrabacher in his speeches is warning “the end of America as we know it”.
5) Tancredo, his motto: "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation."
6) J.D Hayworth, not reelected, but still instilling hate. No comments.

The list goes on and on.. .

From the beginning, the bill's most forceful opponents were southern Republicans. GOP Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama led the charge, often backed by Texan John Cornyn.

One thing is certain, the past six years, the Republicans were mum on all issues with immigration reform as just one of them. They controlled the white house and congress. If there is anytime in which a party is able to get things done, it's when they don't have anyone to really interfere.
Immigration was just one of them.

Indeed, the Hispanic vote is hardly a monolithical block. But what the anti inmigrant rethoric has done is bringing them closer together, unifying and solidifying this block.

Therefore, it seems to me that the most recalcitrant and extreme positions are from Republicans, where no room is for middle ground. This whole episode has branded the Republicans as the anti-inmigrant party. So Republicans have done this at a national level. Pretty transparent move they did, and now the immigrant population, IRISH, PHILLIPINOS and many other immigrant groups, particularly HISPANICS, are aware of this issue.

As mentioned before, the most vicious, the most wretched, the most offensive, the most revolting, the most ruthless, the most vilifying, the most repulsive attacks have come and are still coming from Republicans.

For many of them have the following is an undeniable truth: “illegal immigrant” = equals “all Hispanics” = “terrorists” = “Muslims” an statement so widely and shameless repeated over and over.

At any rate, this is the beginning of the legal immigrant backlash directed against the Republican Party for their position on the immigration bill.

By your actions, you shall be judged.!

Posted by: memo at October 11, 2007 10:39 PM


Part of my family lives in USA, part of my family lives in Mexico.

One of my uncles fought in the Second World War in Europe. Two other were stationed ready to go abroad when the war ended.

A cousin of mine went to Vietnam.

One of my nephews has been to Iraq (not only once, but twice !!).
My other nephew is presently fighting in Afghanistan.
Both of my nephews are with the Marine Corps. Semper fi.

The parents of all these American soldiers, my relatives, came here first without proper documentation, with the exception of one, thus illegally. Even one of these Marines was born in Mexico.

They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their new country.

Let me remind you that many Mexicans came to USA during the Second World War to work in agriculture, mining, and other industries, because the male population was drafted to fight overseas in Europe and Japan..
Many of the present Hispanics are the descendants of those people that stayed here.

Some of these soldiers are from parents that were once illegal. They have even joined the military and died in foreign countries

Let me repeat the words of McCain in one of the debates:
"My friends, I want you the next time you're down in Washington, D.C. to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite," he said. "You'll find a whole lot of Hispanic names.”

My uncles and cousins of my American family are in disbelief by some statements.

Why do you hate us so much, why do you want to harm us?
We are not terrorists!
Do you believe in God? Do you have a religion?

United we stand.
Divided we fall

Posted by: memo at October 11, 2007 10:44 PM


Foreign entrepreneurs, scientists, skilled workers and students are growingly increasingly frustrated with U.S. immigration laws, and many are returning home, a new study shows.

The result: The United States is facing what the researchers call a “reverse brain drain.”

“For the first time in its history, the United States faces the prospect of a reverse brain-drain,” Wadhwa said in a letter that addressed highlights of the study. “So far, the U.S. has the benefit of attracting the worlds best and brightest. They have typically come here for the freedom and economic opportunities that America offers.

“Now, because of our flawed immigration policies, we have set the stage for the departure of hundreds of thousands of highly skilled professionals - who we have trained in our technology, techniques and markets and made even more valuable,” he added. “This is lose-lose for the U.S.. Our corporations lose key talent that is contributing to innovation and competitiveness, and we end up creating potential competitors.”

Posted by: memo at October 11, 2007 10:47 PM