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The Republican Presidential Primary: A contest (mostly) in Dehumanization

The 2012 Republican presidential primary is a ghoulish spectacle, especially when the candidates are called on to offer their sage advice on what to do about the United States’ immigration problem.

First, Herman Cain grabbed headlines by supporting an electric fence at the border. For unrelated reasons, Cain was forced to drop out of the race.

Now there is a new tough guy (woman) on immigration: Michelle Bachmann. She has recently said in a debate that she would deport all undocumented immigrants. Of course, she did not provide a feasible plan to do so:

[I]t would be enforcement: Enforcement both at the border but also by the [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents. Right now the ICE agents — those are the agents in the interior of the country who are tasked with enforcing the law — they are not enforcing them and we also have sanctuary cities now where they don’t enforce the laws on deportation. I think that what we simply need to do is to start enforcing the laws which we are not doing and begin the process of deportation,”

How Bachmann can state that ICE agents “are not enforcing” immigration laws is a mystery. I see ICE agents enforcing the law every day, and Barack Obama’s administration has been racking up record deportations. Unfortunately, Bachmann is pandering to the dehumanization base, Americans who are bent on deporting as many people as possible, irrespective of whether it makes any sense.


The unrealistic and headline grabbing statements by the likes of Bachmann bolster Barack Obama’s chances of re-election. In a general election, folks like Bachmann would have zero chance of winning the presidency. It would simply alienate too many important voter blocs, including Latinos.

The only Republican candidate that has bucked the trend has been Newt Gingrich. Mr Gingrich had this to say on immigration:

“If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out.

“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century.”

If Gingrich comes out as the Republican candidate for the Presidency, Obama should be concerned. Mr. Obama will no longer be able to use the “look how bad the other guy is” tactic when speaking about immigration to the Latino community. Let’s hope reason wins and both parties will be forced to act rather than speak when it comes to immigration reform.

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