Republicans have now sent three clear signals to Hispanic voters: Proposition 187 in California, attempting to deny illegal immigrants health care and public education; the immigration debate of 2006, dominated by strident Republican opponents of reform; and now the Arizona immigration law. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 49 percent of Hispanics said that Democrats had more concern for people of their background; 7 percent believed this was true of Republicans. Since the Arizona controversy, this gap can only have grown larger. In a matter of months, Hispanic voters in Arizona have gone from being among the most pro-GOP in the nation to being among the most hostile.
Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide. Consider that Hispanics now make up 40 percent of the K-12 students in Arizona, 44 percent in Texas, 47 percent in California, 54 percent in New Mexico. Whatever temporary gains Republicans might make feeding resentment of this demographic shift, the party identified with that resentment will eventually be voted into singularity. In a matter of decades, the Republican Party could cease to be a national party.