Lies a Democrat told me: Republicans, amnesty, and the Hispanic vote

Republicans are being told they need to embrace amnesty and open borders ‒ again. These policies have always worked against the GOP. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC, February 13, 2013 ― So it begins again. John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio and now Senator Jeff Flake ‒ who opposed it when he was a Congressman and then supported amnesty ‒ are backing a revamped version of Teddy Kennedy’s 2007 immigration reform.

The Republican members of the “Gang of Eight” are arguing the need to reform immigration because, as John McCain put it, we had an election. Efforts to reform immigration for the sake of Hispandering for more minority votes has been tried for three decades now, with all efforts being abject failures.

In 1976, President Ford started the ball rolling on Republican efforts to win over the affections of Hispanics when he publicly backed statehood for Puerto Rico. Every Republican presidential candidate since him has done the same.

Ronald Reagan won a massive 49 state re-election victory in 1984. Despite this overwhelming success, Reagan only won 34 percent of the Hispanic vote. Understanding this growing minority community and the immense problem that the nation faced, he signed into law an amnesty bill. During the debate over the bill, many supporters said the bill would grant amnesty for up to one million illegal aliens; once it passed, that number rose to nearly three million.

Following that effort to reach out to the Hispanic community, Republicans must have been surprised when George H.W. Bush received only 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. This lackluster performance came at a time when a larger share of the Hispanic vote was Cuban, a traditionally Republican voting group. 

During his presidency, Bush followed the advice of libertarian-leaning Republicans, concluding that the problem with illegal immigration is that there aren’t enough avenues of legal immigration. So with the support of all but two Republicans in the US senate, Bush increased legal immigration by 40 percent annually. Their bill included provisions to add a Diversity Immigrant Visa program, which grants 55,000 permanent resident visas annually on the sole basis that we don’t take in many immigrants from a particular country. It also removed homosexuality as grounds for exclusion and provided exceptions for the English requirement for the naturalization test.

For all his efforts at diversity and immigrant outreach, Bush received only 25 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 1992 reelection bid. This was only slightly better than Bob Dole’s 21 percent in 1996.

In 1997, the Republican controlled House and Senate passed an asylum bill granting nearly 200,000 mostly Central Americans permanent residency.

George W. Bush regained a little strength among Hispanics for his party when in the 2000 election he campaigned on compassionate conservatism, education, earned income tax credits and a humble foreign policy. During that election Bush received 35 percent of the Hispanic vote but became the first Republican to lose the Asian vote.

In 2004, a more hawkish Bush campaigned successfully on the issues of national security, traditional marriage, abortion and more faith based initiatives. This was the election in which Republicans surpassed their previous efforts to garner an impressive 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. During that entire campaign Bush never ran on a plank of amnesty for illegal aliens. During a five minute campaign commercial geared towards Hispanics, Bush cited Hispanic improvements in education, home ownership, and small business ownership. Not once did he mention amnesty or immigration. 

Many debate whether Bush really received that high of a percentage of the Hispanic vote. An independent polling firm stated that in fact Bush received only 34 percent of the Hispanic Vote in 2004. No matter what the number was, the votes weren’t won on the issue of amnesty.

The candidate who did campaign on amnesty for illegal aliens was in fact John McCain. 

Despite nearly a decade of being the biggest Republican supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, McCain received a mere 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, just 4 percent less than Mitt Romney, who campaigned as an out of touch plutocrat. 

Despite these facts, brainless television pundits recite the same talking points over and over again: “Republicans need to support amnesty to win over Latinos,” “we need amnesty so that immigration is not a long term issue,” or “Latino’s are natural Republicans.” Been there, tried that. These ideas have been around for 30 years and have all been tried, but have never resulted in Hispanic support of the Grand Old Party.

Ann Coulter correctly pointed out in the last presidential election that Republicans often are fighting the last battle. The Hispanic vote in the immediate future will increase but has a very significant glass ceiling that no political pundits are talking about.

The Hispanic birthrate has declined 14 percent since 2007. Even The New York Times discovered the very obvious phenomenon of decreasing Hispanic birthrates. This is not just an American phenomenon, as Central and South American fertility rates have declined to below replacement levels. Republicans have never won the Hispanic vote and most likely never will, and in the long run it won’t really matter.

Republicans are much more endangered by the fact that they have lost both the Black and the Asian vote, two groups they use to dominate. Republicans lost the majority of the Asian vote for the first time in 2000, and now Asians are replacing Hispanics as the fastest growing minority. Republicans have been floating around single digits with black voters for three decades. It’s these two voting blocs that should keep Republicans up at night.


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Ryan James Girdusky

Ryan James Girdusky has had his work published in Human Events,, American Spectator,, The Christian Science Monitor and  He is a political consultant based out of his native New York City. He has been featured on The Dr. Gina Radio Show, The Mark Skoda Show and The Edward Woodson Radio Show.


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