Seeking a Latino-Friendly Republican
Considering the track record of the most prominent GOP presidential contenders, it's hard to picture the face of the one who could be reasonable about fixing our broken immigration system. But if there were such a person, if one still emerges in the next few months, Democrats could lose the majority of the Hispanic vote for the first time in U.S. history, and Barack Obama could lose the presidency.
It would take someone with new ideas and the courage necessary to challenge the conservative, anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party. But such a person could defeat Obama in the Hispanic community, where the president's un-kept promises and hollow rhetoric now are being met with indignation.
As if it weren't enough that he failed to drive immigration reform through Congress when he had the chance to do it, now the president insults our intelligence by blaming it all on Republicans.
Surely, the Republicans don't have the right to criticize Obama for failing to keep his promises to reform immigration, when in fact, they were the main obstacle. But the president, now in a campaign mode, cannot expect Latinos to buy his empty rhetoric — not when he has become the record-breaking champion of deportations, not when he keeps claiming there is nothing he can do to ease his administration's harsh crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
The candidate who won the 2008 Latino vote by telling us that "Si, se puede/yes, we can" have more compassion for undocumented immigrants is now the president who tells us, "No Se Puede" without the support of Republicans.
But if that were the case, wouldn't a pro-immigrant Republican president — a la Ronald Reagan — stand a better chance of convincing Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform?
That's the argument that could sway many Latinos to vote for a Republican.
But where is that GOP candidate who would stand up and say "presente" to a community that is hungry for a reasonable alternative to Obama?
It would take the kind of pro-immigrant Republicans who were former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani or Arizona Sen. John McCain before they ran for president in 2008. Giuliani and McCain were widely considered to be pro-immigrant Republicans — and admired by many Latinos — until they caved in to the so-called conservative base of their party.
The problem is that during the GOP primaries, most candidates have the tendency to cater to the extreme right of their party and to almost completely alienate the Hispanic community.
But imagine what could happen if there were at least one Republican presidential candidate who could make his constituents recognize that we are a nation of immigrants; that compassion makes us better human beings; that amnesty is not a dirty word; that immigrants are good for our economy; that most undocumented immigrants are not criminals but hard-working people who are pleading for an opportunity to contribute to society, raise families and realize the American Dream. Imagine a Republican candidate who could debate Obama and say, "'Si, se puede,' and I really mean it."
In the so-called swing states, where Latinos are expected to be the swing voters in 2012, this could be the end of Obama's presidency. And that's because, unfortunately, Obama thinks he can win the Latino vote with smoke and mirrors.
Every once in a while, the president either convenes a big White House meeting on immigration or delivers a "big policy speech" where he keeps insulting our intelligence by insisting on legislation he knows will not be passed by the current Congress and where he offers absolutely no new ideas.
Yet while his administration keeps deporting immigrants in record numbers, Obama keeps telling us that we have an amigo in the White House. More cynical political posturing is hard to find.
In another "big policy speech" on immigration in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border last week, the president demonstrated that he expects to win the Hispanic vote by default. He obviously believes that simply by citing the draconian ways of many Republicans, by claiming they would build a border moat filled with alligators, Latinos will have no choice but to vote for him.
And he could be right, especially if the GOP nominee turns out to be an immigrant-bashing zealot. But with amigos like Obama, surely Latinos are ready to welcome a friendly Republican. All we need is for one to stand up and say "presente."
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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