While the pope may be back at the Vatican, speculations on how the “Francis Effect” will impact America are still circulating — especially regarding our heated immigration debate.
In a recent article, the Guardian notes that Latino activists “have been on a rollercoaster” since 2012. Their mobilization helped re-elect Obama and prevent the deportation of about 4 million people, though the courts blocked his executive action. Now as Trump amps up his anti-immigration campaign with calls for a giant wall and mass deportations, Latino voters have a new incentive to mobilize.
Since Trump announced his run for the presidency, Mi Familia Vota, a non-partisan group which mobilizes Latinos to participate in politics, has recorded a 66 percent monthly rise in voter registration.
This number, along with the results of the 2012 election, shows not only that Latinos are active participants in the political process, but that rhetoric matters. While Trump’s dramatic and degrading flare-ups may be stirring up frustrations within the base of the Republican Party, there are many indications that the election will soon blow up in his face.
One of those indications is Pope Francis. His “counter-rhetoric,” if you will, speaks of hope, inclusiveness, and the American Dream — all messages that are woven deeply into the fabric of our nation. He seeks to appeal rather than to accuse.
Felipe Benítez, a spokesman for Mi Familia Vota, told the Guardian that it had incorporated the pope’s message into campaigns in Arizona, Texas, and California, as well as 2016 swing states Colorado, Florida and Nevada.
While Trump’s bitterness may draw a strong reaction from a large group of voters, the Pope’s compassion speaks universally. The other GOP candidates would do well to keep this in mind as they speak about their policies. There’s only one Donald Trump. He’s made that much clear. Parroting his views on immigration is not a very solid campaign strategy.
It will serve candidates better to be more like Francis and less like Donald.
Anna Pfaff works for American Principles in Action.