Richard Nadler wrote an important piece in the Journal a couple of days ago. First, Nadler’s conclusion is simple:
Immigration policies that induce mass fear among illegal residents will induce mass anger among the legal residents who share their heritage.
In other words, we are alienating Hispanics who are voters. Why? Because they hear the restrictionist position as a veneer for racism and nativism:
The illegals themselves–the group most directly affected–understand "enforcement first" for what it really is: a step toward mass deportation. That is why thousands of undocumented Brazilians exited Riverside, N.J., when the town council sanctioned their landlords and employers.
To these two groups that reject "enforcement first" as a rhetorical euphemism, we may now add a third: Hispanic citizens who vote.
Nadler drills down on this point. His point is simple. "Enforcement first" alienates Hispanic voters. The legal ones who are here:
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.
How much? 22%. Twice as much as the national average of loss of Hispanic support:
In these three races, Republicans’ vote share in heavily Latino precincts dropped 22 percentage points. …
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.
So Nadler is making an argument that our (to my mind immoral) position on immigration is not working. Who is this guy though? Some liberal shill? Nope. A right-wing conservative. He is the President of America’s Majority Project, whose board contains conservative icons like Herman Cain:
Americas Majority was founded to increase the constituency for conservative causes: free market economics, international anti-totalitarianism, and morals based on Jewish and Christian scriptures.
Let’s be clear. This policy doesn’t work morally. It doesn’t work politically. It is time to recognize that and move forward. According to Univision and NDN, 10% of Hispanics watched the Spanish-language debate. Only one Republican, John McCain, offered to participate.