Prominent Republican strategists have announced they are forming a super-PAC to help redefine the party’s immigration stance and to figure out ways to appeal to Latino voters. The super-PAC, called Republicans for Immigration Reform, also hopes to undercut those in the party rallying for strict immigration enforcement, many who appealed to immigration hard-liners but turned off Latinos voters.
Carlos Gutierrez, who was Commerce Secretary under President George W. Bush, and Charlie Spies, a Washington lawyer, are the brains behind the organization. They told the Washington Post they wanted to help push immigration reform next year – and help push Republican lawmakers who were wavering on the issue.
“This is not small ball,” Gutierrez told the Post. “We’re serious, and we are going to push the debates on immigration reform to a place where I believe the Republican Party should be in the 21st century.”
“First they have to be legalized,” Gutierrez said. “Then you have to find a way to get into a line for the green card. … There will be requirements. And we’ll have to negotiate some sort of requirements.”
Neither Spies, who was behind the pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC that raised $142 million for the campaign, nor Gutierrez, have outlined a fundraising goal. Hard-line stances by Republicans, and Romney himself, about issues such as immigration, government assistance programs and affordable healthcare became a rallying point for Latino leaders and the Obama campaign, who warned that a Romney presidency would create hardship for Latinos and fuel hostility against them.
More than 70 percent of Latino voters supported Obama, who has been more open to comprehensive overhaul of immigration law. Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Gutierrez said Romney lost because “the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong.”
Gutierrez said the country cannot grow without immigrants and the Republican Party is a natural home for them. “We are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance,” Gutierrez said in for CNN’s “State of the Union.”
”These immigrants who come across, and what they do wrong is risk their lives, and they come here and they work because they want to be part of the American dream. That is what the GOP is.” Gutierrez said Republicans for Immigration Reform is about people from all over the world, including Hispanics, Asians, West Africans and Ethiopians.