Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

November 12, 2012

Is this a new era for immigration reform? Maybe not

By Mitchel Olszak

CNHI News Service

Last Tuesday wasn’t exactly a debacle for Republicans.

But from some of the reaction coming out of the GOP, you might make that assumption.

Apparently, many Republicans expected big gains from this year’s general election, up to and including a recapturing of the White House. Instead, the results left both parties pretty much where they had been, with barely perceptible gains by Democrats in Washington.

So the GOP has formed one of those circular firing squads that often occur after disappointing elections, with various entities taking shots at each other for costing the party votes.

Much of that will work out over time. But one issue that now seems to be on the Republican agenda is new-found support for immigration reform.

This follows election results showing that Latino voters overwhelmingly went Democratic this election, helping Barack Obama and others in his party score wins. It’s been noted that George W. Bush was able to capture 40 percent of the Latino vote, but Mitt Romney garnered just 27 percent.

The big reason? The view that Republican hostility to immigration reform had significant racial overtones to it.

After Tuesday’s election results began to sink in, Republicans increasingly have called for rethinking the way the party handles immigration issues.

This could get interesting.

That’s because immigration is one of those topics where the differences between Republicans and Democrats are fuzzy at best.

While many in both parties support more generous immigration rules, there is also bipartisan opposition to such moves.

In fact, I think it’s safe to say Republicans have picked up the support of traditionally Democratic working-class whites in recent elections with policies that oppose more liberal immigration rules. But that backing fails to offset growing Latino support for Democrats.

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