The wrong message and messenger on deportations

Updated
 
A young man stands in the gates at the U.S.-Mexico border awaiting his deportation at the port of entry in Tijuana.
A young man stands in the gates at the U.S.-Mexico border awaiting his deportation at the port of entry in Tijuana.
Associated Press

Three months ago, the Republican National Committee hosted a teleconference call with reporters on immigration policy. The media heard from the Republicans’ Hispanic Outreach Director, Bettina Inclan, who chose an odd line of attack against President Obama – the RNC went after the president from the left.

“[Obama] talked about uniting families and all he’s done is deport more immigrants than any president in American history,” Inclan said.

It was a strange twist. The RNC, which is supposed to support increased deportations, was condemning the president for deporting too many immigrants who entered the country illegally.

A few months later, the right is still pursuing this.

[Tuesday], a conservative group released a new Spanish-language ad targeting Latino voters in Nevada and blasting President Obama as “Deporter-in-Chief” – referring to the President’s immigration enforcement record. The group behind the ad, Nevada Hispanics, is associated with the conservative and pro-Republican organizations American Principles in Action and the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

On a substantive level, there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a debate over the propriety of Obama increasing deportation rates. The White House seemed to believe Republicans would be more willing to cooperate and work constructively on comprehensive immigration reform if the administration was more aggressive in enforcing existing laws, but the assumption was wrong – there was literally nothing Obama could do to get the GOP to take governing seriously.

If immigration advocates want to criticize this record of deportations, they have a credible case to make.

But the right doesn’t. Not only do Republicans want increased deportations, they’re hoping to elect the most anti-immigrant presidential nominee in generations. As Rachel recently explained, Mitt Romney has vowed to veto the DREAM Act, endorsed a cruel “self-deportation” agenda, sees Arizona’s SB1070 as a national “model,” and is palling around with Kris Kobach, among other things.

The “Deporter-in-Chief” ad’s Republican sponsors are effectively telling Latino voters, “Don’t vote for the guy who supports the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform; vote for the right-wing guy who want to make life for immigrants so miserable they’ll ‘self-deport.’”

To believe Latino voters will find this message compelling is to believe Latino voters are easily fooled.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

The wrong message and messenger on deportations

Updated