Trump paints Republicans into corner with Hispanics

National Republican strategists warn that catering to the most hard-line voters on immigration in the nominating contest will hurt the party in the general election, as it did the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, who endorsed “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants and attracted historically low Latino support.

“If Republicans want to be competitive in the general election, they have to distance themselves from Trump on both illegal and legal immigration,” said Alfonso Aguilar, an official in George W. Bush’s administration and the executive director of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, a conservative group. “His proposal on birthright citizenship is very insulting to Latinos, and every day, this is the top story on Spanish language media. Right now, if the other candidates don’t respond to Trump, Latinos will buy the argument that Republicans agree with him.”…

No matter who emerges as the Republican nominee, experts in Hispanic voting say many will remember the harsh anti-immigrant tone of the primaries. That was a lesson top Republican strategists drew from 2012, writing in a self-critical “autopsy” that called on the party to enact comprehensive immigration reform in Congress — or continue being swamped in general elections by the growing Latino vote.