Republicans make a terrible mistake when they argue for immigration reform as a matter of GOP survival. First, it’s questionable that support for a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants will automatically win support from Hispanic voters, though it’s undeniably true that past anti-immigrant rhetoric from some conservatives has damaged the party with Latinos.
But it would damage the party even more if Republicans changed positions solely out of political expediency. The reason to back immigration reform is that it’s right – and necessary – not that it’s necessarily good politics.
As the party of Americanization – uniting people on values, not dividing them by race– Republicans should recognize that you can’t expect undocumented residents to embrace American identity if they’re blocked from ever gaining legal status. It should never be easy to earn citizenship, but it shouldn’t be impossible either.