Immigration dangerous territory for GOP

Rob Burkett / Washburn Review

Both literally and figuratively, the great divide is on the horizon.

As the process continues on the republican side of the presidential candidate selection process, the field finds itself within the epicenter geographically of a single issue.

The Grand Canyon state of Arizona is next up on the primary slate for the GOP. Without doubt the one issue taking center stage will be immigration.

The ironic part of this particular issue is that once upon a time, the Republican Party was the more moderate one on this issue.

Ronald Reagan, presidents George and George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans — like Mel Martinez, Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, all were voices of a coalition of republicans who believed in a sensible, compassionate approach to the issue of both what to do about illegal immigrants and how to treat them once they were caught.

Many of these lions of republican leadership are either no longer in politics or have left national politics. Those who are left, have checked their old stances at the door for more extreme and populist (read Tea Party) views.

If Arizona, which is supposed to be home to roughly 450,000 illegal immigrants, wants to do something sensible then it should continue to pursue the lawsuit it has filed against the U.S. federal government, alleging that Washington has failed to fulfill its obligation to securing the southern border of the country.

While I don’t disagree that we should be securing the border and more closely monitoring who exactly lives within the confines of our society, I can’t help but be struck by how patently wrong it is to essentially commit racial profiling.

Anyone who looks Hispanic is subject to having to carry documentation proving they are allowed to be here.  

In Kansas, the coming issue of immigration has ties to the state of Arizona. Current Kansas state Secretary of State Kris Kobach was one of the architects of the law that Arizona state legislators passed in 2010.

The law mandated Arizona law enforcement to conduct checks to determine if someone was in the country illegally during the course of what it referred to as a, “lawful stop, detention or arrest.”

Since then an injunction has been put on the law. The U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments on the issue this year.

In the meantime Kobach has used his authority in his position to engineer policies here that are in line with what has been going on in Arizona.

By using the purview of his office, Kobach is making it more difficult for people to participate in the process of voting. In doing so, he is alienating a growing demographic in the state in Hispanic voters.

If there is a way for republicans to lose their grip on the levers of power at both the state and national level, pushing more people out through a divisive issue such as immigration is a sure way to do it.

One can only hope that as the erosion of civil liberties in this country continue, we will think poorly of this trend before the next issue that comes down the pike is something that seeks to further exclude residents based on heritage and what they may look like.