Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun isn’t worried that his party is alienating America’s diversifying electorate. As long as Congress doesn’t pass immigration reform, at least.
“The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, [and] give them the right to vote,” Broun, who is running for Senate in a crowded GOP primary, told local GPB News. “It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law. Actually, all these illegal aliens are getting federal largesse and taking taxpayer’s dollars. That’s the only way this state is going to become Democratic again, in the next number of decades.”
Added Broun, “It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs.”
His latest comments came in response to a question about Georgia’s changing demographics. A little more than 9% of the state is Hispanic, per the latest census figures. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2011 that Georgia has about 425,000 undocumented immigrants of all ethnicities, among the highest in the nation. Immigrants who lack authorization to reside or work in the United States are barred from most federal benefit programs.
Broun’s theory that immigration reform would lead to a Democratic political takeover has become a popular one in conservative circles, threatening to derail efforts in Congress to put unauthorized immigrants on a path to citizenship. A number of influential Republican pundits have suggested the GOP should focus on boosting its margins with white voters instead.
But Republicans are hardly immune from the impact of the growing Latino vote if they decide not to pass immigration reform. Some 7.1 million undocumented immigrants could potentially become citizens under the Senate bill, per Pew, but only some of them would follow the bill’s typical decade-plus path to citizenship to its conclusion, register to vote, and then turn out for elections. On the other hand, some 17.6 million Hispanic Americans are younger than 18 years old, and an estimated 93% of them are U.S.-born citizens. If they remain a solid Democratic bloc, the Latino vote is going to be a growing problem for Republicans no matter what.
Broun’s penchant for fiery rhetoric – he’s called evolution and Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of hell” – has top Republicans concerned he might blow the election for the party against likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn if he’s nominated. He faces off against fellow conservative Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston as well as former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.