CT Politics

Connecticut Politics

Latino power: Suddenly, Sean Hannity wants immigration reform

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It is a cold, hard slap in the face to conservatives: 71 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama.

The result: Listen to how some leading conservative voices are tripping over each other to say that the Republican Party should step up and support immigration reform.

And no, not in the way that Mitt Romney suggested — through “self-deportation.” And it won’t help to keep talking about “anchor babies” — a discredited “phenomenon” which has sucked up a lot of time on Fox News.

On Thursday, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity said that he has “evolved” on the issue. In Hannity’s high-speed world, evolution can occur over 48 hours.

“I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here — you don’t say you’ve got to go home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on. Because, you know what, it’s got to be resolved. The majority of people here, if some people have criminal records you can send them home, but if people are here, law-abiding, participating for years, their kids are born here, you know, first secure the border, pathway to citizenship, done.”

And then there’s House Speaker John Boehner, who told ABC News Thursday:

“This issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

Whoa! That was a bit too fast for Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who said Boehner was “getting ahead of House Republicans when he commits to getting a ‘comprehensive approach’ to immigration.”

“There’s been zero discussion of this issue within the conference, and I’m urging the speaker to talk with House Republicans before making pledges on the national news,” Fleming said.

But Grover Norquist, the conservative puppeteer and president of Americans for Tax Reform, is on board. “Republicans should approach it as the party of Reagan and Bush — the party that has historically been pro-immigration.” He’s been on board for a while. Even pre-election.

Immigration is a win-win-win. It can be the tip of an olive branch Republicans extend to Latinos. President Obama can finally fulfill his 2008 campaign promise on immigration reform. And it can provide hope to the 12-plus million undocumented immigrants.

As former California Republican Party chair Ron Nehring told The San Bernadino Sun:

Republicans do not need to support amnesty for illegal immigrants in order to reach out to Latinos,

Nehring said. But he also said Republicans don’t realize the kinds of messages they send to potential voters when they only talk about immigration as a law enforcement matter instead offering reforms to encourage legal immigration.

“They go to the border and they all want to get photographed with the Border Patrol so the can send a message to their Republican constituents that they care about border security,” he said. “They send a very different message to their Latino constituents. They are saying ‘I’m going to make sure that fence is high enough so their grandma can’t join them.’”

Joe Garofoli

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