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Opinion Look where anti-immigrant advocates have taken the GOP

Republicans understood, or some of them did, after the 2012 presidential election that the GOP could not continue to put off Hispanic voters. The GOP nevertheless nominated an openly xenophobic candidate bent on demonizing Hispanics. The very fact that the border problem is minor (net immigration now flows from the United States to Mexico) compared with the visa overstays (many from Asia) suggests Donald Trump is fixated on keeping certain illegal immigrants out — the ones he calls “murderers” and “rapists.” If the GOP had a problem with Hispanics before this election, we can only imagine where it will be after the election.

Remember: Texas and Arizona, two red states with large Hispanic populations, are now in play and are winnable by Hillary Clinton, in part because of her strength with Hispanic voters. Trump this month has not had more than a four-point lead in polling. In Arizona, Clinton is ahead in the RealClearPolitics average. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is leading comfortably in his reelection race.

Then there is Nevada, a state Trump won in the primaries and that is absolutely winnable in the general election. Nevada political guru Jon Ralston reports:

Of Culinary [Union]’s 57,000 members, more than 30,000 are Hispanic and nearly 7,000 are African-American. And on the eve of the election, nearly 60 percent – 34,000 – of the union’s members are registered to vote, a record total for Local 226. . . .
This is no fly-by-night operation, either. They may be blue-collar workers, but they have sophisticated charts and algorithms designed to maximize the possibility that the doors they knock on will produce voters for their candidates. The Culinary hall is festooned with color-coded charts and tallies of doors knocked, while down the corridor red pins are stuck in a map to show where they have contacted voters.

And the vast majority of them will be voting for Clinton. Trump is both a motivator (compelling Hispanic voters to organize) and a totally unappealing candidate for the large majority of Hispanics. With early voting, Clinton is building a “firewall” of support, Ralston says. Early vote tallies show a 24,500 raw vote lead for Democrats.

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Trump’s plan to deport 11 million people — which he reiterated at the third presidential debate in Las Vegas — is a political disaster, not only in the animus it generates among minorities but in the negative effect on women, college-educated voters and young voters who perceive him as mean-spirited and prejudiced. Rounding up millions of people by force, separating families and destroying local economies turns out to be a loser among voters. (But everyone on the talk radio show hosts’ call boards loves it! Seriously, that’s how these people think.)

Even in states where Republicans didn’t bank on winning, the party’s overt xenophobia may cost it House seats. “Republican insiders there and in Washington say that Trump’s unpopularity in ethnically diverse California is now threatening to crater their party down ballot — hurting members who were previously presumed safe from top of the ticket headwinds,” writes David Drucker. He identifies at least four at-risk seats in districts with large numbers of Hispanic voters.

The anti-immigrant crowd would like to spin their concern as merely preventing illegal immigration. That charade has been dispelled this election cycle. In rejecting legal immigration, Republicans adopt an entirely anti-free-market approach, directly counter to our economic needs. Congratulations: They’ve allowed the Democrats to become the more sensible party on economic growth, technology and international economic leadership.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the man behind Trump’s virulent anti-immigration approach, now wants to eliminate all H-1B visas. This is economic illiteracy of the worst kind. (Maybe he has no high-tech employers in Alabama?) A robust legal immigration program is an essential ingredient in any pro-growth plan. But now Republicans have adopted the stupid position, immigration exclusion.

Immigration and the overt hostility to large segments of the electorate will contribute to Trump’s embarrassing defeat. The GOP’s plunge into xenophobia is also a very good reason for Republicans who believe in tolerance, diversity, scientific progress and economic growth to leave the GOP. Meanwhile, the GOP commits electoral and intellectual suicide. To each his own.