Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Immigration Reform Won't Help the GOP Win Over Hispanic Voters

Republican skepticism of government overall, not the party's stance on borders, alienates the growing demographic.

Leading Republicans are jumping on the immigration reform bandwagon, hoping that taking the issue off the table will give them a second chance to make inroads with Hispanic voters. But even with a bipartisan deal looking within reach, the Republican party may not benefit as much as strategists expect.

Indeed, there's evidence that Hispanic resistance to the Republican Party is as rooted in the GOP's skeptical view of government, as it is their disagreement with GOP hardliners on immigration. The Republican Party calls for smaller government, but many Latinos look to government assistance as a necessity. Forty-two percent of Hispanic voters say that a government job offers the best chance of gaining career success, compared to only one-third of white voters, according to a June Allstate/National Journal/Heartland Monitor poll.

"Our argument about limited government is always harder to sell than a government program," Florida Senator Marco Rubio told Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday. "It always has been. It's easier to sell cotton candy than it is to sell broccoli to someone, but the broccoli is better for you, and the same thing with a limited government."

That's the argument Republicans are banking on. Texas Senator Ted Cruz made a similar pitch this weekend, saying that Hispanic voters should be a natural constituency for Republicans because 2.3 million of them own small businesses, and polls show that the economy, not immigration, is their top concern.

But attitudes about the government are not the only area where the GOP and Hispanics diverge. Asked whether they trusted President Obama and Democrats or Mitt Romney and Republicans on the economy, 71 percent of Latino voters preferred the president, according to a November Latino Decisions poll. The president polled similarly well on a host of questions, including women's issues and foreign policy.

Even on social issues where there is perceived to be a natural fit among religious Hispanic voters and the GOP, a divide exists. A majority of Hispanic voters now back gay marriage, according to a Pew Research Center Poll, for instance.

"I think Republicans are going to have to come up with a comprehensive plan for appealing to Hispanic voters," said one former GOP leadership aide. "Immigration is not going to solve the issue for them, but it will help."

So far that plan consists of talking about messaging. While Republicans acknowledge there's a communications gap with Hispanic voters, the strategy for repairing it remains murky. Many conservatives say it's time to retire language that could be viewed as nativist or racially insensitive. A document released Tuesday by the Hispanic Leadership Network, a Republican outreach group, offers advice to conservatives in how to talk about immigration without using language that may inadvertently offend Hispanics.

"I think there are some in the movement who portray immigration as a potential threat to the fabric of the culture," said former Democratic representative-turned-Republican Artur Davis in an interview. "A Latino hears that. That doesn't sound the way you want it to sound and it raises all kinds of red flags."

Given the longstanding divide between Hispanics and the GOP on immigration, it's hard to imagine all the damage will be resolved with one bipartisan reform bill. In California, Republicans did irreparable damage to their relationship with the state's sizable Hispanic population after former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson backed Proposition 187 in 1994 that prohibited illegal immigrants from using government services.

"If the only time you talked to your wife was on an issue you disagreed about how good would your relationship be?" asked California Republican party chairman Tom Del Beccaro said. "Republicans need to talk to them about all the issues they care about."


Polish is Britain's second language and nearly one in five people in London only speak English as a second tongue

The second most commonly  spoken language in the country is now Polish, according to official figures yesterday.

A breakdown from the 2011 national census showed that there are 546,174 people in England and Wales who say Polish is their main language and that Welsh – long the second language in the UK – is spoken by 562,000 people.

When Scotland and Northern Ireland publish their census  findings, their newcomers from Poland are bound to push the total for the whole of the UK above the number of Welsh speakers.

Polish was virtually unheard on the streets of Britain a decade ago but its use has soared since the country joined the EU in May 2004.

The Labour government of that period estimated that only 13,000 Poles a year would come to the UK, but between December 2003 and December 2010 the number living in the UK increased from 75,000 to 532,000.

Immigration from Poland was at its highest in 2007 when 96,000 entered the UK. Nearly a quarter of all Polish citizens in Britain live in London.  Some 148,000 now live in the capital, two per cent of its population.

There are also high concentrations of Polish speakers in small towns across Britain, particularly those in Eastern England with agricultural industries.

Boston, the Lincolnshire town at the heart of a row over immigration on BBC1’s Question Time last  week, had 3,006 people who speak Polish as a main language out of 62,243 residents, roughly one person in 20.

The census figures show that other Eastern European languages are  now in the list of the most popular, including Lithuanian, spoken by 85,000 people, and Latvian, first  language of 32,000.

The greatest number of languages is spoken in London, where more than 100 different ones are used in every borough but three.

The census also found that claims made of languages sometimes said to be widely spoken and culturally important were overblown.

Just 557 people said they spoke  Cornish as a first language last year.  Even more rare were Gaelic Scottish, which had 58 speakers, and Manx Gaelic, 33.

Last year a report by the Welsh Language Board said the number of fluent Welsh speakers is falling by around 3,000 people a year.

In all, four million people in England and Wales have a main language that is not English.

Among these, 726,000 said they do not speak English well and 138,000 speak no English at all. [Mostly  Pakis?]


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