The Republican Party's refusal to accept the fact that the United States is evolving socially and demographically will drive the party to irrelevance on the national political scene.
The debate over immigration reform is the latest example of how the party is seems to be out of step with the nation. Hispanics make up the largest minority in America. They voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, by a margin of 71% to 27% for Governor Mitt Romney. In 2012, Asians became the fastest growing minority population in the U.S., edging out Hispanics. President Obama also got 71% of the Asian vote last November.
While only 39% of the white vote went for President Obama in 2012, the white population is declining as a share of the country's total population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that whites will become the minority by 2043.
There are currently more than 50 million Hispanics in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, that number will grow to 132 million by 2050, or about 30% of the projected U.S. population.
Faced with the stark reality of these numbers, many leading Republicans have spoken out in favor of immigration reform. Earlier this week, former President George W. Bush said, “I do hope there is a positive resolution to the debate.” He added, "At its core, immigration is a sign of a confident and successful nation.” Bush's relatively strong showing among Hispanic voters in 2004, about 44%, helped him win reelection.
But many Republicans in the House of Representatives don't care; especially those who occupy gerrymandered districts with small minority populations. None has been more outspoken that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Speaking of the Senate's comprehensive immigration plan, he said, “It would hurt Republicans, and I don’t think you can make an argument otherwise.” Why? “Two out of every three of the new citizens would be Democrats,” he said.
King's candid reasoning is exactly why House Republicans are trying to kill immigration reform. Instead, they are proposing a piecemeal approach to immigration that will leave out a pathway to citizenship. Their first priority is securing the border because there has been a recent increase in illegal immigration in some Southwestern states.
There are 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. The Senate's bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes a "border surge" to secure the Southwest border with Mexico, would decrease illegal immigration by up to 50% according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO further projected that the bill would cut federal deficits by $158 billion over the first ten years after enactment.
It would seem that the Senate bill would at least be worthy of consideration by the House. But House Speaker John Boehner refuses to do so citing the Hastert rule, which means a majority of the majority House Republicans must agree. So the Senate bill appears dead.
Following the Republican's disappointing results in the 2012 elections, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, "When Republicans lost in November, it was a wakeup call." He issued a report that included the following recommendation: "We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only."
Apparently House Republicans didn't get the message.