Republican Party Officially Backs Immigration Reform

6871661255_628bcbc5f9_zToday, the Republican National Committee formally endorsed comprehensive immigration reform, bringing its position back in line with the Republican Party platform of 2004. Championing immigration reform was among the suggestions offered  in a report released today about how the RNC can reinvent itself as part of a $10 million plan to reach out to minority groups. “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” says one recommendation in the 100-page report, according to the Associated Press. “If we do not, our party’s appeal will continue to shrink.”

The report is a more extensive analysis of the impact of anti-immigration policies, such as self-deportation, that led House Republican leadership to embrace immigration reform immediately after the November election. Just days after the election, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) came out in support of immigration, saying he thinks “a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.” Then, in early February just as House Judiciary Committee held the first hearing about immigration reform, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) endorsed a path to citizenship for DREAMers. “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” he said.

Republicans who are working on immigration reform have acknowledged the political considerations when it comes to backing immigration reform and winning over Latino voters. Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) explained in late January that his party could lose traditionally red states that have growing minority populations if Republicans impede efforts to overhaul the immigration system. “As you look at demographics in states like mine, that means that we will go from Republican to Democrat over time,” he said.

Even though the RNC views changing its immigration message as a vital step to improve its outreach among Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Caribbean communities, some within the Republican Party’s conservative base are not on board with the shift on immigration policy:

But the push to overhaul the party’s approach on immigration has run into deep resistance from elements of the conservative movement, which have opposed such efforts for years. An immigration-reform panel that several included pro-reform speakers at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) received a cool reception from the audience of conservative activists. And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is playing a central role in crafting an immigration reform bill in Congress, declined to mention the controversial topic altogether during his speech at the conference

Despite resistance from fellow Republicans, the RNC’s decision to support immigration reform continues to show that it is a new day in the conversation on immigration reform. The announcement only goes to show that it is time for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, so that all who live here can contribute to our nation’s success.

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

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