GOP Needs a Rethink on Immigration: Shift the tone.

By Mark Krikorian on January 8, 2009

from National Review Online, January 8, 2009

As the 111th Congress convenes, Republicans need to rethink their immigration policy.

This isn’t because of the supposed lessons of last November’s elections. Despite his herculean efforts at passing Ted Kennedy’s amnesty bill, Sen. McCain’s share of the Hispanic vote was in the usual range for Republicans — though lower than the Republican share in 2004, just like among every other category of voter. He did lose, after all. And if no Hispanics at all had voted, Sen. Obama would still have won.

This Congress will be the first since 1965 in which major immigration legislation will be considered with Republicans not in control of any part of the national government (other periods of unified Democratic control didn’t feature any big immigration debates). And it didn’t work out too well last time: Sen. Kennedy’s 1965 immigration-law changes — which he promised, on the record, would not lead to any increase in numbers or change in the flow — sparked what has become the largest wave of newcomers in our history.

With Republicans shut out of power, now is the time to take a new look at their approach to immigration, to develop a new and distinctive alternative to the majority party. In other areas, such as health care or the environment, such a reassessment might conceivably yield different policies than in the past. But on immigration, what is needed is not so much a reversal in specifics but a different framework within which to fit the specifics.
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