Republicans need to get their act together on immigration or else face dire electoral consequences.
That was the message sent by a compelling op-ed in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, authored by CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder. Puzder’s most salient point is that while GOP candidates beat each other up over differing immigration stances, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are positioning to use this dispute to their advantage, a strategy which, if successful, could significantly hurt the Republicans’ chances in 2016:
Republican presidential hopefuls always clobber one another over immigration policy. This cycle has been no exception, with Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and others carving out their own territory. The winner is the Democratic nominee, who can use immigration as a powerful weapon against the eventual Republican candidate. Hillary Clinton no doubt sees the potential. While she has commented on little else, she has already promised that if elected she would go beyond President Obama’s questionable executive order.
The GOP needs to end the family drama and resolve the policy dispute, not least because it is the right thing to do in every sense—economically, politically and morally. With a world on fire and economic growth strangled by government regulation, it would be unacceptable for Republicans to lose a critical election over immigration.
The solution is for Republicans to “unite around a set of rational principles,” and the principles which Puzder highlights are all ones which conservatives ought to have no trouble supporting. There are, of course, the priorities of securing our border and improving law enforcement through visa overstay penalties and employment verification, reforms which are necessary for any tenable immigration plan. However, Puzder also importantly includes reformed legal immigration policies, such as a dynamic guest worker program, which studies suggest would boost U.S. employment and encourage economic growth. He also argues that every GOP candidate should support a path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., dependent on their taking certain steps such as passing a background check, paying a fine, and learning English.
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While much of the recent rhetoric surrounding immigration has generated more heat than light, Puzder’s proposal is a welcome injection of sanity into the ongoing conversation on how the GOP should move forward on this issue. If Republicans are truly serious about winning the White House in 2016, they would do well to heed this advice.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.