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Facing facts on immigration
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Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson are both staunch Republicans. Both are also very practical businessmen – Murdoch owns media companies; Adelson, casinos. They became billionaires by dealing with reality.
That's why both have recently written persuasive articles urging their party to support immigration reform. But on this issue, many of their fellow Republicans continue to prefer fantasy to facts and ignore the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working here.
When Eric Cantor, the second-ranking Republican in the House, was defeated in a primary by a strong foe of immigration reform, conventional wisdom proclaimed that reform was now dead for this Congress. But Murdoch was correct when he wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “That would be the wrong lesson and an undesirable national consequence of this single, local election result.”
In fact, sidetracking reform would have many undesirable results, and Murdoch stresses one of them: economic strangulation. Himself an immigrant from Australia who is now an American citizen, the media mogul insists: “If we are serious about advancing our economic future and about creating job growth here in America, then we must realize it is suicidal to suggest closing our doors to the world's entrepreneurs, or worse, to continue with large-scale deportations.”
Adelson, a major supporter of hard-right conservatives, headlined his piece in Politico, “Let’s Deal With Reality and Pass Immigration Reform.” He focuses on the moral argument for legalizing undocumented newcomers and laments how sending them home would have a “devastating and heartbreaking effect on countless multi-generation families living here together.”
Other Republicans stress a third “suicidal” result of opposing reform: political self-destruction. The electorate is changing rapidly. It will be less than 70 percent white by 2016. And fewer than three out of 10 Hispanics and Asians voted Republican in 2012.
So why do so many Republicans refuse to face the facts outlined by Murdoch and Adelson?
There are many reasons, but one of them is a deep-seated, hard-wired suspicion of anything favored by Democrats in general and President Obama in particular.
So is immigration reform really dead? Will Republicans insist on learning the “wrong lesson” from Cantor’s defeat? Probably. Except for one more fact.
Cantor’s successor as majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, represents a California district around Bakersfield that is one-third Hispanic. The strip mall where a young McCarthy once ran a deli now houses a Mexican grocery and a restaurant serving papusas, a Salvadoran delicacy.
Will McCarthy listen to the “suicidal” voices in his party? Or will he pay attention to the realities – and the voters – altering his hometown?
Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by email at stevecokie@gmail.com.