GOP Readies New Anti-Immigrant Grandstand

We talked back in August about the well-publicized trip by members of the Republican Study Committee of Colorado and several GOP legislative candidates to Arizona, hoping to glom onto a little of the buzz surrounding that state’s controversial anti-immigrant legislation SB1070. This legislation, though neutered by federal court injunctions that prevented enforcement of its most controversial provisions–and facing near-certain death in a lengthy and expensive legal battle–is nevertheless greatly loved on the hard right.

And in Colorado next year, the hard-right RSCC wants their agenda front and center–the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard picked up the story before the holiday:

Colorado State Senator-elect Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, told The Colorado Independent Monday that he will introduce legislation early in the next session that would be nearly a carbon copy of Arizona’s SB 1070…

“John Hickenlooper is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. The people of Colorado clearly want this passed. If the Legislature and the governor fail, then it will go to a vote of the people,” Lambert said.

He said he understood that a State Senate with a 20-15 Democratic majority might not pass an Arizona-style immigration bill. “I expect it will be a controversial bill, but there is a chance it will pass because it is possible that some of the Democrats will listen to what their constituents are telling them.”

“I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get full Republican control in Colorado. We did get the House of Representatives so we’ll just have to see what is possible,” Lambert said.

Folks, we’ve been frank about our opinion of the political value of Republican obsession with illegal immigration. It doesn’t help them win in Colorado. In election after election illegal immigration flares up as a potential boogeyman issue for Democrats, sometimes provoking a ‘preventive’ response like the state legislature’s 2006 special session on immigration.

But by Election Day, the boogeyman disappears. Immigrant-baiting just does not motivate significant numbers of Colorado voters, and those it does affirmatively motivate are largely in the GOP column anyway. If there was any better demonstration of this fact needed than Bob Beauprez’s drubbing at the polls in 2006 after running on a campaign of demonizing immigrants, Tom Tancredo’s gubernatorial run settled the question this year. Tancredo ran some of the most vicious attacks imaginable against John Hickenlooper, ads full of lurid descriptions of crimes committed by immigrants. Is there anybody willing to say those ads hurt Hickenlooper in the least?

Which leads to the real problem: it’s not that it’s an issue nobody cares about. In fact a great many voters do care about immigration–just not the way Kent Lambert and the RSCC are thinking, and not the way voters in Arizona are thinking. As we’ve warned over and over in this space, and the New York Times reported after the election, whatever short-term benefit the GOP can realize by appealing to anti-immigrant sentiment in their base is completely overshadowed by the voters they are sending away in disgust.

Latinos over all showed a clear preference for Democrats and were credited in Nevada with saving Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, in his race against the Republican Sharron Angle. Likewise, Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado owe their victories in no small part to the aggressive get-out-the-vote campaigns by Latinos in their states, according to analysts and exit polls… [Pols emphasis]

In Colorado, the races were full of polarized talk about immigration, as Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman known for his especially tough stance on the issue, joined the governor’s race against the Democrat John Hickenlooper, who was Denver’s mayor. Both Mr. Hickenlooper and Mr. Bennet won the Latino vote by very wide margins, Mr. Segura said.

Latinos “rejected the anti-Latino message that poisoned the airwaves throughout much of the campaign,” said Jessie Ulibarri, Colorado director for Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign. “When candidates use those messages it backfires on them pretty fiercely,” he said.

Don’t tell that to Lambert–seriously, say Democrats. If Republicans really believe that the takeaway from the 2010 elections is to continue alienating the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the United States, voters who were pivotal in the victories that broke the “Republican wave” in Colorado…obviously, Democrats would be fools to interrupt their enemy’s suicide, right?

After so many painful lessons on the dubiousness of this message, the GOP in Colorado continues to make it a central theme. We’re accused of bias frequently, but we have to tell you, from a purely objective political standpoint, we truly don’t understand why they do it. And we think it will be remembered by Democrats and Republicans someday as a cardinal error.

47 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Sir Robin says:

    Is it that split? We keep hearing that this voting bloc will wield increasing influence.

    The Republicans are playing a risky game here, imo, because they’re up against one of the morepowerful symbols of our country…The Stature of Liberty.

  2. redstateblues says:

    He must not realize that the Democrats already beat him to it in the 2006 special session.

    • BlueCat says:

      Andrew Romanoff, who, as then House Speaker sponsored legislation to deny benefits to undocumented immigrants, except for benefits required by federal law, along with other measures hailed at the time as the toughest state legislation dealing with illegal immigrants then going.   Next thing you know, the Hispanic family that had been providing us with lawn care for the previous two years disappeared without a trace before the following season. It certainly wasn’t because they were collecting any benefits or on welfare or anything. We had no idea they were illegal what with the sons speaking perfect English, probably having spent all but their earliest year or two here.

      Still haven’t seen any American Anglos taking advantage of the illegal’s exodus mowing in our neighborhood. It used to be Hispanics and Vietnamese.  Now it’s all Vietnamese.  Not surprising that Romanoff preferred not to bring that stuff up much in 2010.  

  3. JeffcoBlue says:

    When they put Lambert on the JBC from the Senate instead of Al White they proved it. Where is Bob Martinez? He warned the Colorado GOP the path they were heading down with Schultheis, Lambert, and Lundberg, but they did not listen to him.

    If the GOP is interested in saving itself from generational destruction, Martinez should be speaking out. Perhaps running against Dick Wadhams, who is standing by and letting the RSCC kill them?

  4. allyncooper says:

    We don’t have an illegal immigration problem in this county. We have an illegal employment problem in this country. If there weren’t jobs available for illegal immigrants, they wouldn’t be here. The real problem is employers and industries that will hire illegals to fatten their bottom lines. Fact is, there is a lot of people making a lot of money off  illegal employment, and these people tend to be Republican business people.

    In the Legislative special session of 2006, Al White introduced a bill that would have gotten tough on illegal hiring. Owens was all for it until he got the word from Larry Mizel (Richmand Homes) and Norman Brownstein (chief lobbyist for the housing industry) that White’s bill was a bad idea, since at least 50% of the labor used in the production housing business was illegal. Owens kowtowed to his corporate masters and Republican campaign contributors, pulled his support, and White’s bill died.

    “Illegal immigration” has actually gone down the past two years. Housing starts due to the housing collapse are a fraction of what they once were. Just connect the dots.

    As usual, follow the money and you get to the source of the problem.


    • Car 31 says:

      I remember that bill and remember thinking finally someone is addressing the problem. But, alas…

      Making business responsible is important, but there continue to be challenges on how to implement penalties/sanctions on illegal hiring. Enforcement is difficult unless there is a good system for checking legal status. As it is now, one can pick up a Colorado ID and social security card pretty easily. With those documents, the businesses don’t know they are hiring an illegal.

      In any case, I’m sure the House will have all the answers and legislate it all proper and well once the session starts…[sarcasm – drip, drip, drip]

    • ScottP says:

      We don’t have an illegal immigration problem in this county. We have an illegal employment problem in this country.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Poor people don’t hire themselves.

      It is the people who make the hiring decisions and pocket the difference between a US worker and an illegal who need to be targeted.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Equal Pay

      If employeers had to pay the undocumented worker the same wage as a US worker then the incentive to hire people who don’t know the language or have adequate skills disappears.

      If you couple that with having illegals pay taxes then they won’t be able to work for less and it would help reduce the deficit.  A big reason that US workers are disadvantaged it that they have to pay taxes and the illegal immigrant doesn’t.

      If you want to make progress on illegal immigration then pay them the same wages and make them pay taxes.  American workers would be in demand again because they can compete based on workmanship.

  5. Republican 36 says:

    I recall a poll showing Senator Bennet won the Hispanic vote over Mr. Buck 81% to 19% and what do the Republicans want to do about it . . . drive the remaining 19% into the Democratic column at a time when the Hispanic voting block is 15% of the voters in Colorado and rising. Again the radical extremists (they’re not conservatives by an stretch of the imagination), are so ideologically tied to xenophobic ideas they can’t see the political disaster staring them in the face.

  6. SSG_Dan says:

    …maybe they should include a few other things to their new “Final Solution” bill. We could include teh gayz and the women who mutilate their own lady parts (aka Abortion and birth control) in this new bill, and let the various law enforcement departments spend all of their time stopping people in the streets.

    “Papers, please…because you just look illegal. Or gay. Or like a slut.”

    Now, I’d love to see how this bill is paid for…or does the Colorado GOP really believe that tasking every law enforcement officer with some extra “tasks” is going to be free?

  7. bjwilson83 says:

    You guys should really stop taking the Hispanic vote for granted, assuming that Hispanics enjoy having their jobs and identities stolen by those who break the law. You’re about to lose it.

    • Republican 36 says:

      candidates were shellacked in the Hispanic community. Some may have done marginally better than in the past but not much. The author’s conclusion that Mr. Buck lost because he didn’t do well enough with white voters is true but also requires a response of so what. Of course a statewide politician has to do well with white voters to win but here Mr. Buck was obliterated in the Hispanic community. Sen. Bennet won 81% of that vote and that no doubt contributed to his victory.

      • BlueCat says:

        it was kind of amusing. For a moment.  Moment over.  On what planet can it be denied that the Hispanic vote went overwhelmingly to Bennet and Dems in general? Planet BJ, I guess, although in this case maybe it should be SJ for “Snow Job”.

      • Ralphie says:

        Maybe the Dems will get lucky and he’ll get a job as a political strategist someday.

      • Aristotle says:

        It’s a partisan opinion piece, not a reliable news article. Texas Republicans are lower than used car salesmen on the integrity list.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          Smith takes a quote out of context from America’s Voice to further prove his point, which is pretty much disproved when you read the entire linked article.

          On the other hand, the AV makes a decent and ongoing point that Democrats needs to quit taking the Hispanic voting block for granted at election time and get busy doing something substantial in immigration reform.  

      • bjwilson83 says:

        But if Hispanics trend Republican nationally, that will eventually hit Colorado too.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          to show that nationally ‘Hispanics’ are ‘trending’ Republican…but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?  I mean, asking you, of all people, for anything to back up any thing you say is pointless.  

          Do you know, that if ice cream salesmen begin to trend Libertarian nationally, that Colorado–being part of the nation–might also see its ice cream salesmen trend Libertarian?  In fact, I know TWO ice cream salesmen and BOTH are Libertarian.  I think the GOP should be worried, both use to love them some Ronald Reagan back in the day.  

    • Aaron Silverstein says:

      We can’t take the Hispanic vote for granted, or the African American, or the votes from many other communities, because we are that vote.

      The problem Republicans will always have courting the “Hispanic vote” is that they see it as a pool of voters out there that their Southern White Male party might be able to tempt away by making common cause on certain economic or social issues, but do not be mistaken: they will always see those others as useful pawns, and not as “real” America.

      You saw this all the time in the corporate media when analysts talked about how states would have gone for Obama if you excluded the “black vote” – as if certain voters (while technically included) aren’t representative of what actual America thinks.

      BJ cautions the Democrats not to take the Latino community for granted, and so he ignores the fact that there are Democratic Latinos on every level. Garcia. BJ should tell Sen. GuzmГЎn how worried he is that she will not look out for Latinas as well as Sen. Lambert can. Or he should tell Lt. Gov. Garcia how much better BJ is at knowing what the Hispanic voters of Colorado want.

      I am not worried about Democrats turning their backs on the Latino vote, because every Democrat is an equal member of our party.  

      • Ralphie says:

        to know a Hispanic named “Silverstein.”

        It’s not every day you get to say that.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        I hate identity politics too. People are individuals. But after seeing what the Dems have done the last few election cycles, I’m not going to write off major voter blocks to them. Actually, our county party chair is Hispanic, and there are many Hispanics involved in the Republican party. Their values are closer to the GOP, and they’re slowly realizing it.

    • parsingreality says:

      So, Cubans have been a considerable chunk of what the Republican “success” has been.  Especially true in Florida and New Jersey.

      BUT, the grandkids of those Castro refugees are breaking out of the mold and trending strongly Democratic.  

  8. DavidThi808 says:

    A fundamental tenet of the right wing is that their social issues are supported & desired by a majority of Coloradans. If that is so, then they absolutely should double down on every one of those issues – in this upcoming session. Because that is their road to further electoral success.

    And if they think their social issues are the road to electoral failure, then everything they’ve said and everything they’ve fought for is a lie. And so, their only course now is to go forward supporting their ideals.

  9. saofner says:

    It may be worth looking into who is really behind this bill.  

  10. ScottP says:

    Why do people think that if you’re against laws like AZ SB1070, then you’re all for illegal immigration?

    Laws that assume everyone with brown skin or a heavy accent is an illegal immigrant until proven otherwise go against just about everything that America stands for.

    Telling Latinos that they are all suspect of being illegal immigrants SHOULD alienate them.

    We want responsible reform, but the GOP just want the simple answers.

    Tax reform isn’t as simple as just taking away tax revenue and immigration reform isn’t as simple as just jailing people without proof of citizenship.

  11. Ray Springfield says:

    Once again, NAFTA drive manufacturing jobs South and farm labor North.

    Migration in history is normal.

    I could see deporting felons to the country of origin.

    Letting people pay taxes in the country that they work only makes sesnse.

    • parsingreality says:

      And let me tell you, an American caught working in Mexico without the necessary papers – and there are few categories that permit this – you are charged with a serious crime, unlike the hand slap we give here.

      • Ray Springfield says:

        Anyone  born in NOrth aMerica could work in North America. It would take rewriting NAFTA.

        • parsingreality says:

          Cheap labor floods into the US and Canada.  

          Lower classes wiped out.

          Does “work” include Canadians and Americans opening businesses in Mexico?  Mexicans may like that when large multinationals do, but not when Amos America opens a nice little tortilleria in his semi-retirement.

          The three nations would be giving up all rights to decide who they want as residents.  

          “I got a NAFTA green card and I want to work in Canada and it’s my right to do?”

          A political non-starter.

          BTW, NAFTA does not include Central America.

  12. ….politicians just sit around in a room and say, “You know… what’s the best way to piss off brown people?”

  13. thethinker says:

    would be to require all employers to utilize the E-verify system.  The vast majority of people I know (of all parties)support targeting employers who hire illegal immigrants to eliminate the “job magnet”.

    The system is accurate, easy to use, provides employers with a means to ascertain whether employees are legal, deters illegal immigrants from applying, and helps provide a level playing field for all employers.

    Ignoring a huge problem like illegal immigration – indeed, condoning illegal behavior and pushing down wages for American workers, in order to court voters is a recipe for disaster in the US.

    I am a Democrat but am tired of their pandering to Latino voters.  The Republicans aren’t any better as they talk tough, but don’t seem to be willing to take on the business interests that thrive on cheap labor.

    As it stands now, middle class Americans of all races experience lower wages, higher taxes, higher unemployment, an increasingly more crowded nation, and a growing disregard for the rule of law, as our lawmakers refuse to enforce our immigration laws.  

  14. Ray Springfield says:

    and yes, USA, Canada, and Mexico could have interchangability of work permits.

    It would go a long way to solving the immigration situation.

    That, and the decrminalization of narcotics busting the cartels (for hard narcotics this means sent to rehab rather than prison, and the offendor gets the bill)

    would massively reduce violence.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.