House Republicans will be planning a vote next week on immigration legislation that would expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their families into the U.S.
Due to their poor showing among Hispanics, the GOP appears to be trying to repair their image among this growing voting bloc. But while any step towards immigration liberalization is a good thing, the GOP is fooling itself if it thinks that bills like these will win favor with Hispanics.
After the beat down the Republicans took nationwide in the 2012 election, there was an immediate rush of soul-searching among conservatives over what went wrong — especially among Hispanic voters. While Romney and the establishment types blamed Obama's promises of government goodies, the Republican leadership's love of forced wealth transfers and desire for the expansion of the welfare state means that while there is an element of truth to Romney's words, it does not fully explain the Republican failure.
There were even calls for a third-party by former presidential candidate Herman Cain. While any break from the DC duopoly is a welcome occurrence, a quick look at the "alternatives" Cain is advocating — pro-Fed, corporatism, military interventionism, restrictions on civil liberties — hardly provides a better choice.
If the Republicans were truly serious about reinventing their party and appealing to Hispanics, then they would have to look no further than Congressman Ron Paul's (R-Texas) presidential run and grassroots support. Paul received by far the most support among Hispanics than any other Republican candidate as well as huge support from young voters, moderates, progressives and other voting blocs that the Democrats dominated in 2012.
And why was that? It wasn't because Paul offered welfare payments from other taxpayers, special favors or immigration policies. It's because Paul told them the truth about our financial and political problems and talked to them like adults rather than a voting bloc that needs to be catered to.
Paul's libertarian message stressed how it brings people together because while we may exercise our freedoms in different ways, we can all agree to respect those decisions so long as they don't infringe on other's rights to exercise their liberties. From this premise, Paul stressed the importance of ending the drug war and its accompanying civil liberties violations, military interventionism, and the debasement of the currency — all of which disproportionately harm the poor and minority groups.
While this message was drawing thousands and packing auditoriums, the rest of the Republicans failed to distinguish themselves from the Democrats philosophically in a political climate desperate for change while nominating a man who did little to change their caricature as the party of the out-of-touch, rich and white. It is no surprise that the Republican Party — which, since its inception in the 19th century, has represented the antithesis of limited government, a free economy, and the other empty platitudes they so often profess — is searching for answers when so many are right under their nose. Rather than embrace this big tent, they did everything they could to lie, cheat, and smear this libertarian message out of the party.
The type of immigration legislation the House GOP is offering up next week will do little if anything to change their image to Hispanics while making them look like a dying party, desperate for votes. If the Republicans had any principles, understanding of economics, or listened to the Paulian grassroots, solving issues of immigration would be a lot easier — and wouldn't require yet another piece of federal legislation.
Like the production of money, security, and countless other industries, the immigration issue has been nationalized and socialized to predictably bad results. The drug war has turned the border into a war-zone, and the U.S. government (even if it were somehow capable of centrally planning the movement of people across a border) would rather protect the borders between North and South Korea and countless other hot spots around the globe than our own. More government intervention is not the answer to a problem caused by the predictable consequences of central planning.
A real solution to immigration and border security would be the extension of private property owners to exercise their right to defend their lives and property. Honest people simply looking for a better life would have no problem melting into a vibrant market economy, and private property owners, not bureaucrats in Washington, would govern admission and exclusion.
But potential criminals from across the border would be warned that trespassing would not be tolerated and met with force if necessary. Free association combined with properly defined private "borders" would do wonders to address the immigration issue (and so many others as well!).
So while Republicans continue to "soul-search" and pick up the pieces from the 2012 election, expect more bills like the mealy-mouthed immigration legislation that will be voted on in the House next week. But until the Republicans offer a principled vision like the one that Paul used to attract one of the most diverse coalitions in modern American history, except their faux olive branches to be rejected not just by Hispanics, but the rest of the country as well.