Estupido! What else to call GOP opposition in the Senate to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), expanding the program to include 4 million more children, all of it funded by an always advisable raise in the federal cigarette tax. The vote was 66-32, largely along party lines. Similar legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support last year but President Bush vetoed it twice. Why did most Republican senators fail to support the bill this time? Because it includes providing health insurance to the children of illegal immigrants as well as pregnant women.
Hmmmm. I thought the GOP was the pro-life party, yet they don’t want to give pre-natal care to a poor pregnant woman because she was not born here? Is that the way to promote the right to life? Or does the right to life only extend to Anglo children?
Stupidity as well as hypocrisy is at work here. To his credit, President Bush tried to get the Republican Party to reach out to Latinos. He saw that Latino culture - with its strong emphasis on the family and a work ethic that is second to none - was a good fit for a political party committed to promoting traditional values. As Governor in Texas, reaching out to Latinos was politically necessary even in the 1990s, but the demographics for the rest of the nation tell a similar tale.
In the 2008 presidential election, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada flipped from red to blue on the strength of Latino votes. In both 2006 and 2008, pro-immigrant Democrats defeated anti-immigrant Republicans in many congressional races in these same states and in Arizona as well. In fact, in no contest where immigration was a central issue did the anti-immigrant candidate prevail.
The GOP congressional delegations, like the Republican National Committee which votes on its new chairman today, is being held hostage by anti-immigrant extremists, people who watch Lou Dobbs and don’t get sick to their stomach. And, expanding SCHIPs was the perfect chance for the party’s congressional leaders to distance themselves from these crazies: Children should not be punished because their parents decided to bring them to America illegally and the revised SCHIPs program recognized that simple moral fact.
For all the talk about the need for bi-partisanship, here is an issue on which the Democrats must stake their claim: When it comes to defending the families of immigrants, they should not compromise. This same commitment should guide them as they pursue comprehensive immigration reform. It is not only the only morally justifiable way to proceed, it is also the way to become the dominant political party for a generation. Latinos will not forget who looked out for them and their children.