DHS funding feud ends: How it hurt the GOP’s image with Latinos

Republicans in Congress dodged a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday when they passed a clean funding bill, and now some say…

House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday allowed a vote on a bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security and doesn’t include language blocking Obama’s executive actions on immigration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans in Congress dodged a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday when they passed a clean funding bill, and now some say this feud over funding hurt the GOP’s image with Latinos.

The Republican-controlled House approved a clean DHS funding bill with no provisions to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The bill cleared the House on a 257-167 vote. It had already passed in the Senate and now heads to Obama’s desk for his signature.

Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions, noted that while 75 House Republicans did vote for the clean bill, the majority of them opposed it and wanted “to see Obama’s executive action for parents of U.S. citizens defunded and canceled.” He said this positioning “only further weakens” the Republican Party’s image with Latinos.

“Republicans will not get themselves out of the ‘self-deport era’ by positioning themselves as wanting to deport the parents of U.S. citizen children,” Barreto told VOXXI, adding that an overwhelming majority of Latino voters support the president’s move on immigration.

SEE ALSO: House sends DHS funding bill to Obama without stipulations on immigration

For weeks, Republicans had been trying to pass a bill that would fund DHS but reverse Obama’s executive actions announced in November that could shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The bill passed in the House but was blocked four times by a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, forcing House Speaker John Boehner to bring a clean DHS funding bill to the House floor for a vote on Tuesday.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda Sanchez condemned Republicans for putting the nation’s security at risk in order to try to block Obama’s executive actions on immigration. She also noted this will hurt Republicans with Latino voters.

“Let the record be clear: House Republicans do not stand with Latinos on the issues that most affect our community,” Sanchez said in a statement to VOXXI following the House vote. “We will not forget who was with us and who was not.”

Political pundits say that if Republicans want to win future presidential elections, they’ll have to do a better job with Latino voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012. In the last presidential election, Romney received just 27 percent of the Latino vote—the worst for a GOP presidential candidate since Bob Dole won 21 percent of the Latino vote in 1996. Meanwhile, Obama received 71 percent of the Latino vote.

These results concerned the Republican National Committee, which released a report after the election calling on Republicans to “embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” The group also warned that immigration policies—like Romney’s proposed self-deportation—would only distance Latino voters.

“It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies,” the RNC stated in its report.

SEE ALSO: Jeb Bush tries to sway conservatives to support immigration reform

But as the 2016 election season approaches, Barreto said Republicans are damaging their image with Latinos by going after Obama’s executive actions on immigration instead of offering solutions on immigration.

“Republicans need to follow the advice they gave themselves after the 2012 election—to support comprehensive immigration reform, not attack immigrants,” he said.

Immigration advocacy groups, like America’s Voice, also say Republicans often overlook the fact that for many Latino voters, the issue of immigration is personal. A Latino Decisions poll released prior to the 2014 election found that 58 percent of Latino voters personally know someone who is undocumented.

But what’s worse, Hispanic lawmakers say, is that Republicans have been more focused on reversing Obama’s executive actions than on proposing immigration reform legislation. Following the House vote on Tuesday, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) urged Republicans to work with him and other Democrats “to pass immigration reform that is good for our economy and keeps families together.”

“That is the ultimate long term solution for how to deal with an immigration system that badly needs to be overhauled,” Gallego added.

Meanwhile, Republicans say this fight over Obama’s executive actions isn’t about immigration, but about the Constitution and preserving the rule of law.

“If we don’t stop President Obama’s executive overreach on immigration, future presidents will continue to expand the power of the Executive Branch and encroach upon individual liberty,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement following the House vote. “We must continue to use all tools at Congress’ disposal to stop the President’s egregious abuse of authority, such as taking legal action and passing legislation.”

SEE ALSO: Obama defends his immigration executive actions in town hall