Political Animal


August 27, 2012 11:39 AM Republicans and “Self-Deportation”

By Ed Kilgore

It didn’t get the attention it merited because of the focus on the GOP’s usual platform plank endorsing a constitutional amendment to ban abortions without rape-and-incest exceptions, but the Romney-approved 2012 platform confirmed the party’s lack of interest in out-performing John McCain among Latinos. Julia Preston of the New York Times has a succinct summary:

In their debates this week in Tampa, Fla., over the party platform, Republican delegates hammered out an immigration plank calling for tough border enforcement and opposing “any forms of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, instead endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily,” a policy of self-deportation

I like that modifier “humane.” I suppose the idea is that it is more “humane” to make the lives of undocumented workers—and perhaps some documented immigrants as well—an un-American nightmare of perpetual harassment than to pursue some unstated alternative: presumably loading whole families into cattle cars and shipping them south (which would also be monstrously expensive). The trouble, of course, is that the “humane” strategy depends implicitly on making like miserable for anyone who might conceivably be undocumented in the eyes of the various authorities charged with various elements of the campaign to “encourage” self-deportation. We are somehow expected to believe this will not lead to “ethnic profiling” of Latinos, but nobody much buys it. To put it bluntly, jurisdictions like Alabama and Georgia, not to mention Joe Arpaio’s Arizona, do not have a great deal of credibility when it comes to disinterested enforcement of laws clearly aimed at particular demographic categories of the population.

So even as Republicans continue to claim they only want to enforce existing immigration laws, they are pursuing not only policies but a general philosophy guaranteed to repel Latino voters. Ron Brownstein estimates that Romney will need a percentage of the white vote equivalent to that won by George H.W. Bush in his easy 1988 victory over Mike Dukakis. No wonder Republicans are going to lengths in appealing to white voters that are so highly reminiscent of Lee Atwater’s strategy that year.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Always the optimist on August 27, 2012 12:03 PM:

    Happy to report that Georgia's laws appear to be having no effect at all on the thriving latino community here in Atlanta. No evidence of any fear in the community, always out and about. Many, many in the community appear to have prospered, based on the number and type of cell phones, and the multitude of late model vehicles I see. Children are taking full advantage of educational opportunities--the schools report great attendance and full classrooms!

  • stormskies on August 27, 2012 12:04 PM:

    And, gee, let's remember that all the corporate pundits, all the story line's and narratives created, all said that the corporate automaton and buffoon called Romney could not win unless he got at least 40% of the Hispanic vote.

    Where are all those pundits now ? They have all gone quite because of being directed to be quite by the corporations who have hired them. So not they can create yet more story lines and narratives that try to help the buffoon being installed as the next president.

  • LJL on August 27, 2012 12:35 PM:

    When the German government in the 1930's decided there were too many Jews in Germany, they tried a series of increasingly more strenuous policies to get the Jews to "self-deport" themselves. And as everyone now knows "self deportation" then failed big time as it will in today's America if Romney and his party have their way.

  • Bobby Goren on August 27, 2012 12:44 PM:

    Humane Harassment ... oxymoron? Or, just moronic.

  • bluestatedon on August 27, 2012 12:58 PM:

    What I want to know is who will play this year's Zell Miller? Who will be the bulging-eyed true-believing GOPer to ascend the podium and deliver a spittle-flying, frothing-at-the-mouth rant about that evil Kenyan Mooslim America-hating Socialist-loving Devil Incarnate illegally occupying the White House?

  • exlibra on August 27, 2012 1:18 PM:

    I like that modifier “humane.” -- Ed Kilgore

    Caught my attention, too. I'm more used to seeing it in PETA statements, referring to animals. Seems telling of Republican attitude towards illegals, doesn't it?

    Meanwhile, the NYTimes had a fascinating article about some of those illegals sneaking into the US -- some as young as 6yo:

  • boatboy_srq on August 27, 2012 1:26 PM:

    I like that modifier “humane.”

    It is a likeable word. Funny, though, that I usually hear it used to describe treatment of pets. In context, in the case of the GOTea announcement, it jumps out at me as the most disgusting part: "illegals" aren't even discussed as people, but livestock deserving husbandry (and not respect). Scientologists' dismissal of the unconverted as "wogs" sounds positively tolerant and enlightened by comparison.

    I see exlibra had the same reaction.

  • Anonymous on August 27, 2012 1:32 PM:

    It's very sad considering that it was Reagan who passed immigration reform that gave amnesty to illegal immigrants in 80s.

    DREAM act was first introduced under Bush in 2001. Bipartisan afford to pass the bill has been defeated by bipartisan opposition in 2001, 2006, and 2010.

    Throughout the last decade, Democratic leaders have tried to pass this somewhat unpopular bill even when Bush was a president.

    By contrast, Republican senators who introduced and voted for DREAM act under Bush filibustered the passage after the House passed and majority of Senators voted yay in 2010 under Obama.

    This is one of the reasons I am a Democrat today even though i was more of a centrist in the past and local elections.
    I also admire Obama for ObamaCare which he knew was going to be unpopular and it largely helps people who has no power including the ones who would not vote for him.
    It is universal health care insurance coverage after all.

  • Russell Sadler on August 27, 2012 1:35 PM:

    The Republicans really ought to be called out on what "self-deportation" is. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his ilk who preach this doctrine are really promoting "ethnic cleansing" of their states. There are simply no other words to describe what they are urging.

  • boatboy_srq on August 27, 2012 2:02 PM:

    @Anonymous August 27, 2012 1:32 PM:

    Three things:
    1) IOKIYAR
    3) Reagan and Bush both failed Conservatism by failing to be sufficiently Conservative.