“The Republican Party needs to throw in the towel on the immigration issue,” Fred Steeper, a GOP pollster who advised both Presidents Bush, recently told The New York Times‘ John Harwood.
Steeper is just one of many key Republican figures, including Karl Rove and Grover Norquist, who have asked their party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform, which was the one policy recommendation the Republican National Committee gave to the party in the now moldy and completely disregarded “autopsy” report.
Establishment Republicans know that they have to embrace reform because the prospect of their next nominee doing worse with Latinos than Mitt Romney — who did worse than John McCain, who did worse than George W. Bush — would mean almost no hope of winning the White House.
That’s why Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) risked his career to back reform.
But embracing reform comes at a huge cost. Republican districts are on average far more white and rural than Democratic districts and support for reform is such a hot-button issue that it alone could easily draw you a primary challenger.
That’s why Marco Rubio no longer backs his own bill.
The fact that Latinos likely won’t decide who controls the House in 2014 is probably the biggest hurdle to passing reform in 2013 — and it’s also why only three House Republicans publicly support immigration reform that resembles the bill that Rubio helped pass the Senate. But there are definitely some Republican members of the House who could be persuaded to help the GOP avoid becoming a national version of what it has become in California as a result of anti-immigrant policies — a larger third party.
“The base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country,” pollster Stan Greenberg recently wrote in an analysis of the Republican Party. Immigration inflames that fear. But unless the GOP conquers it, it will conquer them.
Here are five House Republicans who represent districts in swing states with strong Democratic Party infrastructure who would be wise to support comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship.
Photo: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr