Joey Kennedy -- The Birmingham News
JOEY KENNEDY: Alabama's Terrible Immigration Law Can Be Big Trouble For Republicans Nationally in Presidential Race
I attended a telephone press conference Monday put on by America's Voice, featuring Lynn Tramonte, deputy director for America's Voice (an immigration reform advocacy organization), Angela M. Kelley, vice president of immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Erika Adiola, government relations director at DRM Capital Group.
This group's consensus is that, mainly because of Alabama's harsh immigration law and Republican presidential candidates' embrace of it and similar laws, the Republicans are in real trouble come election time. Republicans can't win without a good chunk of the Latino/Hispanic vote, and that's just the way it is.
In 2004, George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Latino vote. In 2008, John McCain fought hard for the Latino vote, but drew only 31 percent, and lost. This year, according to a recently conducted Fox News Latino poll, GOP leader Mitt Romney is polling only 14.2 percent versus President Barack Obama's 69.6 percent. And of the three front-leading Republicans, Romney polls the best.
"The damage is done," Kelley said. "The law's impact has been stunning from Day 1, and has been sustained." Alabama, she said, has made itself "an incredibly unattractive state to go to."
And, said Kelley, Romney is using the author of the Alabama law (and Arizona's, Georgia's and South Carolina's), Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as his immigration adviser. It was Kobach who taught Romney about "self-deportation."
"Self-deportation is just mass deportation with a smiley face," Tramonte said.
Rodriguez noted that Alabama's immmigration law was one of the most detrimental measures in recent history, resurrecting vestiges of the old South that we all believed stood buried.
Republicans have painted themselves into a bad corner, Tramonte said. "I don't think they're going to be able to walk back or moderate their position," she said. "It's impossible for them to replace history and what they've said in the primary."
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