The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. It’s how the nation came to existence. No one person, outside that of the indigenous people who lived her prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims and the rest of our forefathers can say that this area of North America is exclusive to them and them alone. There’s a reason the Statue of Liberty has etched on it:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
Because we are the nation that was a “new world” to immigrants worldwide, and we still are. That will become very clear in the upcoming election. To win the national general election in November of 2016, the winning candidate will need to have the Latino vote and Asian American votes. In 2012, President Obama took 71% of the Latino vote and 73% of the Asian-American vote. The results are now obvious. Given the current opinions of the Republican Party candidates on the immigration issue, it appears that the Democratic Party is in a very good spot for a repeat performance.
The xenophobic reaction to Trump’s anti-immigrant spiel can be seen in nearly every Republican candidate, and their individual approaches to immigration reform are all uniquely comical. It’s almost as if they’re in a contest to out-crazy each other.
Let’s take a look at where some of the candidates fall on the issue of immigration.
Donald Trump: Besides calling Mexicans rapists, murderers, drug dealers, etc. He also wants to build a big “beautiful” wall that will keep all immigrants from coming across the border. He also wants to make sure we make it easier for European immigrants to come. But don’t you dare call him “racist,” because you will run the chance of being called an “idiot” or a “moron” for suggesting such a thing. Even though he IS a raging racist. And his nationalistic white pride is literally written across his forehead.
Scott Walker: Here’s one of those guys who will literally say anything to be popular. He was likely the kid on the school yard who hung around next to the popular kids and laughed at all of their jokes. So when Walker suggested he would build a wall along Canada’s border to try to out-Trump Trump, when it wasn’t well received and laughed off as a joke, he said it was a joke. Basically because everyone else did too.
Chris Christie: Not to be out-crazied, Christie thought it wise to compare immigrants to FedEx packages and offered up the idea that we should track immigrants in the same way we would our shipments. He probably should’ve thought that idea through a little better, because the last time a leader put tracking codes on people it was to keep order on them inside concentration camps. So now, backtracking ever so slightly, Christie has resigned to just “finger-printing” immigrants. Although, at least he admitted that using the term “anchor babies” makes the Republicans sound anti-immigrant.
Jeb Bush: With an unfortunate last name weighing him down, Bush really doesn’t know where to stand on much of anything. Does he pander to bigots? Does he stay moderate? But it seems that he’s decided to be all over the map. As far as immigration, he can’t decide if using “anchor babies” is racist or not so he tries to undo the racist remark by making it more racist and adding Asians to mix. Once considered a moderate on this issue, he sees Trump pulling ahead, and doesn’t seem quite sure how racist he should go to up his poll numbers with the Republican base.
Both Ted Cruz, an immigrant himself from Canada, and Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, a son to immigrants, also seem to be steadfast in their disdain of anyone else entering the country after their family did. Jindal labeling “immigration without assimilation” an “invasion,” and Cruz calls any form of immigration reform that doesn’t line up with what he wants, “illegal amnesty.”
When did we decide to get away from that? When did the United States put a sign on the door that said “Sorry, we’re full!” We haven’t, and we never should. Immigrants are what makes this nation what it is — so diverse, so eclectic, so rich with cultural differences that enrich our every day lives. However, to this latest batch of Republican presidential candidates, you’d think the sign on America’s door read “Whites only,” or “Mexicans need not apply” reminiscent of the treatment of immigrants back in the early 20th century.
No matter how you slice it, Republicans are NOT embracing this topic with a level head that may actually produce a positive change and proper immigration reform. Immigration as it is, is not good enough. It’s nearly impossible for many to come here legally. Something MUST be done. And just building a wall or shooing immigrants away like they are pests is not the proper action to take. They need to either embrace immigration reform with logical thinking, or they will, without a doubt, lose in 2016.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.