Frank Sharry, the founder of America’s Voice, sketched out the process in a March posting.
If the GOP finally blocks the president’s immigration plan, “Obama will step in and protect low-priority undocumented immigrants with relief from deportation and work permits; Republicans will go nuts and do everything they can to overturn the President’s executive action,” he said.
But the backlash, he predicted, will help the Democrats. “The GOP’s anti-Latino, anti-Asian and anti-immigrant brand will be cemented for a generation” among minority voters, he said.
Some marginal groups believe their street protests and demonstrations will force Obama to halt deportations before the November election, said Fernando Espuelas, the top-ranked Latino radio talk-show host.
“There are a lot of people who really want to believe in the magic wand of the presidency… Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Obama’s ability to overcome legislation,” he added. That could become a political problem for Obama, he added, because “many people in the Hispanic community are convinced that the president has not done enough, and that he is somehow responsible for Congress’ inability to act.” (RELATED: Obama eyes even less immigration enforcement, seeks to reduce deportation of illegals)
“What we are supporting is the ‘Not One More’ campaign, to use presidential discretion to stop some of these deportations,” said Marentes, who also blogs for the LatinoRebels website. “What reasonable people in the debate are considering is [a stop to deportations for] people who would qualify under the Senate proposal, who have been living here, who have family ties.”
Amid the pre-November drama, Republicans should respond to Obama by emphasizing the economic damage of mass immigration to Americans, said Ira Mehlman, the communications director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Hispanics and other Americans are being hurt by Obama’s decision to flood the terrible labor market with illegal immigrants, he said. The GOP’s message, he said, should be that “We can either maximize the number of people from your particular ethnic group [in the country] or maximize the [paid] value of your work; You chose.”
“A lot of Hispanics out there are struggling out like everyone else… and a lot of people will say ‘Yes, I have to put my family first,” ahead of ethnic solidarity, he said. So far, Sen. Jeff Sessions has done the best at pushing that economic message, he said.
In Texas, the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate is downplaying immigration differences and playing up Texas solidarity. “The blending of cultures in the Lone Star State works… We are all Texans,” Greg Abbott said in a speech after his primary win.
The post-ethnic pitch can also reduce anger at Obama among voters and Republican legislators, Mehlman said. Public anger is a danger to the GOP, because it is cited by Obama and his aides when they suggest that the GOP is a party of white people who hate Latinos.
In October 2011, for example, then-presidential contender Herman Cain jumped into a trap laid by Obama, who had said earlier that Republicans were so anti-Latino they would want a border moat filled with alligators.
“My fence might be part Great Wall and part electrical technology,” Cain said told a cheering GOP audience. “It will be a 20-foot wall, barbed wire, electrified on the top, and on this side of the fence, I’ll have that moat that President Obama talked about. And I would put those alligators in that moat!”
That misstep was quickly exploited by Democratic politicians seeking to spur Latino turnout in the 2012 election. Cain’s statement was evidence “that immigrants are being demonized and used as scapegoats by some of the most radical elements within the Republican Party,” said Democratic Rep. Sylvester Reyes.