If immigration reform were supposed to make the GOP look less like the party of intolerant white guys, it isn’t working

But did we mention that Marco Rubio’s parents were born in Cuba?

473px-Marco_Rubio,_Official_Portrait,_112th_CongressImmigration reform isn’t a chance for Republicans to win more Latino votes. It’s their only hope to stop getting fewer and fewer Latino votes.

Senator Marco Rubio, who would like to be the GOP nominee in 2016, knows that to win the presidency, he at least needs to stop this slide. And, as the son of Cuban immigrants, he thinks he might even be able to magically reverse it. Thus he’s joined the “Gang of 8″ in the Senate to lay out a framework for bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform. Then he, Senator John McCain and the others in the gang went out to sell the plan to their respective bases.

As Rubio and McCain have made their case, they’ve often seemed like they’re laying out the excuses for why the whole bill will eventually fall apart, hoping that somehow that this predicate will help shift the blame for the collapse on President Obama.

As they’ve made their case, they’ve also help demonstrate just how out of touch they are with the American public, especially young people, who see progressive values as mainstream American values.

The Border Scare

John McCain has at least been honest that huge leaps have been made in securing the border since the last attempt at immigration reform in 2007. But he’s nearly the only one making this assertion.

The fact is the border is more secure now than it has been in decades, possibly more secure than it has ever been.

President Obama has outpaced President Bush in deportations by about 2 to 1. This unprecedented investment in securing the border and hyper-vigilant effort to deport undocumented workers was attacked by many on the left until the president made his historic decision not to deport young people who would be eligible for citizenship under the DREAM Act. Then it became clear he’d been making the case for his new policy and immigration reform by stepping up enforcement of existing laws.

Marco Rubio is attempting to put a poison pill in the immigration reform bill that will give a so-called Southwest Commission the final decision on when to allow eligible immigrants to move down their path to citizenship. This Commission will be made up of border Governors like Arizona’s Jan Brewer and will “trigger” the process when they decide the border is secure. The problem is that, as the economy improves and the system remains broken, there will likely never be a point when Republicans say the border is secure because their base — who doesn’t want reform and torpedoed it last time — will never allow it.

Rubio’s trigger ignores the hard work the Obama Administration has done and spreads the myth that the border is still out of control. When it doesn’t appear to his liking in the final bill, expect Rubio to oppose the whole thing.

The Worst Stereotypes

That Republicans are debating whether immigration reform will really help their party lays bare their cynical motivations for trying to fix our broken immigration system. But when they argue about whether or not Latinos will become Republicans they reveal the nasty heart of the modern Republican Party.

For years, some on the right made the argument that as Catholics, Latinos are pro-life and thus Republican. But they always forget that Catholics — unlike social conservatives — don’t just vote on abortion. They embrace the religion’s other ethics: anti-war, pro-education, pro-helping the poor. Latinos believe in a government that helps people.

And because of this, you’ll hear Rush Limbaugh sitting in his comfortable chair in an air conditioned studio basically calling people who come to America to pick vegetables, clean houses and take care of kids “lazy.”

This is the “47 percent” argument all over again. If you don’t believe in a government that exists just to cut taxes for the rich, invade Middle Eastern countries and ban abortions, you’re a leech. But to most Latinos, 75% in a 2011 poll, believing in a bigger government that helps people live better lives is the definition of patriotism.

Gay Immigrants

In 2013, after the president’s 2nd inaugural when he made his unequivocal stand for equality, there simply should not be a debate about whether gay families should be treated like… families. But there’s John McCain, spreading the same tired arguments that have kept gay Americans in the shadows for generations.

“I think it is a red herring. I think then, do we want to guarantee a tax payer free abortion?” McCain asked. “Which is more important: LGBT or border security?”

“That’s a staggering quote,” said Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who is gay and an undocumented immigrant.

“I can’t marry my way into citizenship like straight people can,” Vargas said. “I can get married in the state of New York where I live, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government, which hands out visas, won’t recognize my marriage.”

Vargas says the way gays are treated is the perfect example of how broken our current system is.

To most Americans under 40 and many over, gay rights are human rights. But the GOP is just using this issue as another chance to demonstrate why their party is just not made for the 21st century.

  • John O

    Rubio reminds me so much of Lady McBeth…..always ambitiously plotting. planning, scheming and manipulating. You could make bookends out of Rubio and Cantor

  • Mike48162

    Good comments by Chris Hayes this AM that while Republicans want to look like they are moving on immigration reform, they will want to make the citizenship process so cumbersome, demanding, red tapish, contingent etc. that before 2016 or even 2020 very few immigrants will have managed to become citizens AND get the right to vote. Dragging out immigration legislation and implementation (while they may say things in support) is really a voter suppression tactic! 11 million votes times 75% = 8 million Democrat leaning votes.

  • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

    There are few people that scare me more or make me more ashamed of how Americans are viewed around the world than people like you. Here is a short list, however, of people that DO scare me more:

    Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. David Vitter, and Rep. Virginia Foxx.

    You should all be ashamed to be such racist, xenophobic people. Our forefathers and those who built this country — also immigrants — would be mortified to hear such anti-American drivel.

    Have fun with your Rasmussen polls, by the way. They are in the top tiers of “worst polling accuracy” pollsters in the USA.

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