Republicans and "Self-Deportation"
It didn’t get the attention it merited because of the focus on the GOP’s usual platform plank endorsing a constitutional amendment to ban abortions without rape-and-incest exceptions, but the Romney-approved 2012 platform confirmed the party’s lack of interest in out-performing John McCain among Latinos. Julia Preston of the New York Times has a succinct summary:
In their debates this week in Tampa, Fla., over the party platform, Republican delegates hammered out an immigration plank calling for tough border enforcement and opposing “any forms of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, instead endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily,” a policy of self-deportation
I like that modifier “humane.” I suppose the idea is that it is more “humane” to make the lives of undocumented workers—and perhaps some documented immigrants as well—an un-American nightmare of perpetual harassment than to pursue some unstated alternative: presumably loading whole families into cattle cars and shipping them south (which would also be monstrously expensive). The trouble, of course, is that the “humane” strategy depends implicitly on making like miserable for anyone who might conceivably be undocumented in the eyes of the various authorities charged with various elements of the campaign to “encourage” self-deportation. We are somehow expected to believe this will not lead to “ethnic profiling” of Latinos, but nobody much buys it. To put it bluntly, jurisdictions like Alabama and Georgia, not to mention Joe Arpaio’s Arizona, do not have a great deal of credibility when it comes to disinterested enforcement of laws clearly aimed at particular demographic categories of the population.
So even as Republicans continue to claim they only want to enforce existing immigration laws, they are pursuing not only policies but a general philosophy guaranteed to repel Latino voters. Ron Brownsteinestimates that Romney will need a percentage of the white vote equivalent to that won by George H.W. Bush in his easy 1988 victory over Mike Dukakis. No wonder Republicans are going to lengths in appealing to white voters that are so highly reminiscent of Lee Atwater’s strategy that year.