Now that it is clear the high tide of Republican interest in comprehensive immigration reform occurred early in 2013 and has receded to a point far beyond the disastrous “self-deportation” stance of Mitt Romney in 2012, GOPers are naturally casting about for a Plan B or C or D for appealing to Latino voters, while telling themselves immigration policy ain’t all that. There’s a good overview of emerging “alternative” options by Josh Kraushaar at National Journal. He personally favors Marco Rubio’s formula of “middle-class economic issues,” which is sorta what used to be called an “aspirational” agenda, or in the GOP lexicon, “compassionate conservatism.” And he mentions as less attractive approaches the efforts by Paul Ryan and Rand Paul to come up with something constructive to say to and about poor people and the vast number of non-violent offenders locked up in prisons.

Now if Republicans decide to retreat from atavistic social and economic policies because they are under the impression that it will save them from the demographic consequences of their alienation of minority voters, that’s fine with me. But Kraushaar’s protesteth-too-much claims that Latinos don’t really care that much about immigration policy is a bit laughable. Here’s a contrary argument heard not so long ago from one group of Republicans:

If Hispanic Americans perceive that [a] GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.

Those were the words of the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project report, released in March of 2013.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.