GOP risking Latino voters
Immigration proposals could reverse party's gains with Hispanics
Sunday, May 7, 2006 By GROMER JEFFERS JR. The Dallas Morning News
The volatile debate over immigration is creating numerous divides, but none may be more pronounced than the split in the Republican Party.
Conservative proposals that would criminalize illegal immigrants and those who help them – along with the huge demonstrations nationwide against such plans – threaten to isolate Republicans from a base of support that they have worked for years to court: the fast-growing Latino population.
If Hispanics bolt the GOP because of immigration, it would erase the inroads George W. Bush has made in opening the party to the group, both as Texas governor and president. What's more, a strong Latino turnout could help Democrats win control of Congress in the November elections and change the landscape in the next presidential race..... The presence of independent candidate Kinky Friedman in the race could give conservatives determined to make a statement on immigration an alternative. Mr. Friedman, who supports a guest-worker program but a much stronger border enforcement policy, has called Mr. Perry soft on the issue.
"Kinky Friedman is closer to the Minutemen than Rick Perry," said Mr. Hernandez of St. Mary's University, referring to a national group that has been monitoring areas along the border.
Mr. Perry notes that the issue is critical in a state like Texas.
"Texas has the longest continuous border with a foreign country of any state in the nation, so immigration will always be an important issue with Texans," he said.
Mr. Friedman said that Mr. Perry, "like a good politician, doesn't want to offend anybody. He sure doesn't want to offend any Hispanics after that big march in Dallas.".... more