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GOP Immigration Extremists

by Geraldo Rivera | Mar 16, 2007

Until the last election cycle, Republicans had a reasonable chance of becoming the permanent majority party in this country. But in the lead up to the November 2006 elections, the GOP was hijacked by extremists on the immigration issue.

Led by candidates like Arizona's J.D. Hayworth, the party essentially adopted the position of the Minutemen and similar radical groups, which promulgated a wildly exaggerated portrayal of a tidal wave of brown people overwhelming our southern border, running loose to rape, steal and murder on the streets of our cities. It is no accident that various hate groups have declared common cause with the Minutemen. Similarly, it is no accident that these various activist anti-immigration groups scarcely mention our long, undefended border with Canada.

By adopting a position at odds with the President and Republican Senate moderates like Arlen Spector, the GOP insulted Hispanic Americans, fueled the rise of radicals like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and led the way to their resounding November defeat.

Granted that the war in Iraq was the single most galvanizing issue for most Americans; for Hispanics, it was immigration and they made Republicans pay for the insults.

Item: In the elections of 2004, 44% of Hispanics voted for the GOP. In 2006, that number was down to 27%. The effect of that seismic shift among the nation's fastest growing ethnic group of perhaps two million votes was the utter defeat of radical candidates like Hayworth.

Why do you think that the majority of Cuban Americans, alone among U.S. Latinos is solidly Republican while the majority of every other Hispanic group is Democratic? Like Dominicans, Mexicans, Venezuelans and every other sub-division within the Latino community, Cubans tend to be more socially conservative than Anglos on issues of faith like abortion. All are similarly entrepreneurial, hard working and traditional as opposed to secular and progressive.

Isn't it reasonable to assume that the way Cubans are treated when they enter this country without proper documentation, as opposed to how their immigrant colleagues from other national backgrounds are treated is one important factor in their choice of political affiliation?

All an illegal Cuban refugee has to do to gain rights in this country is touch U.S. soil. Once they achieve that milestone, there is a presumption that they are political refugees with status. If a Dominican or a Mexican, (or a Haitian for that matter), were to swim onto that same stretch of Florida beach, they'd be locked up, and restrained until either deportation proceedings or voluntary deportation.

The President's trip to Latin America should have been an eye-opener to those advocating the construction of a mighty wall to keep Latin America out. We build a wall or even just talk about it and we fuel the radical movement led by Hugo Chavez and his left-wing comrades who say, 'see the gringos hate us'.

Wall building exacerbates, rather than regulates the flow of illegals. Is there a person reading this who really believes that a man with a hungry family who has marched across the length and breath of Mexico and miles of parched Arizona desert because his family back home is hungry will be seriously impeded by a wall?  What are we going to do if they climb over or tunnel under it, shoot them?

Aren't we turning our backs on the continent that since the Monroe Doctrine we have sought to hold close.

And with a U.S. unemployment rate of fewer than 4.5%, where would we find the workers to replace the eleven or twelve million undocumented workers who are here? The current jingoistic anti-immigrant hysteria is bad politics, bad business, smacks of racism and blissfully ignores recent history.

Until the mid-19th Century most of the American Southwest was Mexico. Since the conquest of Texas in 1836, and the treaty that forced Mexico in 1848 to cede the Southwest and then added insult to injury by imposing the Gadsden, Arizona purchase of 1853, generations of Mexican citizens have been allowed back into their former territory whenever we needed their sweat and toil. We have spent a Century and a half winking and nodding at undocumented seasonal workers who risk everything to cross illegally just to get a job to feed their families.

Isn't it reasonable to think that residents of Mexico might hold some affection and nostalgia for their lost North America Empire, especially if part of their family still resides on this side of the modern line? Haven't Native Americans in recent decades experienced some small amount of belated justice? Where are the casinos and oil leases for the Mexicans forcibly excluded from their historic lands along with the Apache, Navajo, Sioux and Seminole?

Jews didn't forget Jerusalem after a forced exclusion of 2,000 years. Is it so breath-taking that the collective Mexican consciousness remembers back just 154 years to the time when towns from Santa Fe to Los Angeles to San Francisco were theirs?

However it happened, all agree that modern boundaries are now firmly and forever established. Every reasonable commentator understands that. But history is relevant when it comes to how we treat these 'visitors'.

All most of the undocumented want is a fair shake and a chance to work hard and realize what we proudly call the 'American Dream'. Give them the chance to regularize and legitimatize their status and watch, as they become another beautiful component of the national mosaic. Maybe even Republicans.

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