Republicans who believe that amnesty would buy them an electoral advantage with Hispanics are deluding themselves. That Hispanics are a natural Republican constituency because of their Catholic and family-oriented traditions is wishful thinking. Hispanics are not uniformly in favor of amnesty for illegals — polls have shown that a segment of the Hispanic population ranging from a large minority to a small majority oppose the policy. Polls also show that a substantial majority of Hispanics support Obamacare, and that Hispanics voted accordingly on Tuesday. Those who see in Hispanics a potential bloc of socially conservative voters should consider that polls consistently find blacks to be slightly more anti-abortion than whites, but they are not exactly lining up behind Rick Santorum. There is very little reason to believe that Hispanic Catholics are any more likely to vote like social conservatives than non-Hispanic Catholics. For that matter, the majority of Hispanic evangelicals voted for Obama in 2008.

The amnesty signed into law by the charismatic and popular President Reagan did not bring Hispanic voters into the Republican party; Republican congressional leaders who believe that sending one to President Obama would redound to their benefit are engaged in a defective political calculus. Nor are Hispanics the only group of voters to consider. Blue-collar whites do not appear to have turned out for Republicans in the usual numbers last week. Support for amnesty will not bring them back. If the policy advanced the national interest, that consideration might not matter. It does when supposed political advantage is the argument for the policy.