Immigration Reform 2013: How Republicans Can Win Over Millennials

While Democrats have made their fair share of stupid comments before, Republican politicians lost out in the 2012 election cycle because of the ridiculous remarks they'd made. From the well-publicized, controversial comments of Newt Gingrich and Todd Akin, there were many reasons for millennials not to vote Republican last year. There were some interesting comments regarding self-deportation and strengthening the border fence during the presidential election. So, what can the Republican platform do to meet the needs and concerns of an increasingly diverse millennial electorate?

One of Romney’s greatest faults during the 2012 election cycle was failing to “court the youth vote.” As the proportion of youth who identify themselves as minorities grows, it definitely spells out much needed change for the Republican party’s platform. Simply put, comments like that of “self-deportation” will no longer be acceptable. Thankfully, Republicans are finally realizing this, beginning with Newt Gingrich’s controversial comment regarding allowing illegal immigrants who have established ties in their American communities to stay. While this may not have been the correct way to start, it was certainly a step in the right direction. The Republican Party is making certain changes in its platform, and none of it would be possible without the help of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). According to the Associated Press, the Republican Party is aware of the changes it needs to make, but what can they do to implement those changes?

1. Consider different options


While it can be considered admirable to have strong beliefs and not want to deviate from them, the Republican Party has to come face-to-face with the fact that they can no longer afford to be as hard-line on their policy choices. In a country that is starting to become tolerant and holding more diverse opinions, it is essential to keep an open mind and accept different solutions. We are already starting to see that with the compromises that Rubio is planning to propose going forward, such as introducing triggers before undocumented workers apply for amnesty.  

2. Working with Democratic leaders to bring bipartisan support to an otherwise complicated and complex issue


Seeking compromise with Democratic leaders will be essential to showing millennials that the Republican Party is capable of working with those who have different opinions from them to form a credible solution. While this solution will not come immediately or in the short term, it will be helpful in producing the image of a helpful, collaborative, creative group.

3. Balancing the different facets of the Republican Party to seem somewhat politically cohesive


Reconciling the different groups within the Republican Party — those completely against illegal immigration, those who area against some forms of illegal immigration, and those with a moderate view of these issues — will be extremely difficult. But through strategic talks and cooperative distinctions, there can be at least some cohesion within the party itself. While it is important for these groups to maintain some distinction and separation from each other, if they can unite to some degree on immigration, they can present themselves more intelligently to millennials and the world at large.

While these ideals sound great on paper, they will be difficult to implement. It is at that point when these ideals have to be embodied by the politicians and the party itself. The Republican Party has long had a reputation of narrow-mindedness and careless commentary. At least in the field of immigration, adopting these changes — which have already begun to see fruition — and fully realizing them will present a better image of Republican politicians and the party overall.

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Anjana Sreedhar

Anjana is a passionate NYU student studying International Relations and Gender and Sexuality. She is also a PolicyMic writing intern who enjoys following the news and hopes to work in international development, particularly improving reproductive health of women and girls. When not studying, working, or researching, you'll find her editing for the NYU Journal of Politics and International Affairs, writing for NYU Generasian and Washington Square News, or watching Downton Abbey with a cup of masala chai.

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