Walking the Immigration Line When it comes to immigration, presidential candidates walk a fine line. Conservatives need to appear tough on illegal immigration, and liberals can't appear too harsh — or too soft. Courting Latino voters entails a fancy dance.
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Walking the Immigration Line

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Walking the Immigration Line

Walking the Immigration Line

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G: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America." He says the key for the candidates - Democrats and Republicans - is to talk about immigration without getting into issues of race.

: Then Mexican Americans - Latino voters - voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 187. That's the point. It's that if the Republicans or the immigration reform people, let's say, wanted to really make this a broad-based issue that included Mexican-Americans, then they would have to really take out the race. And I don't know if that's possible at this point, the racial overtones to the issue.

: Wasn't that the strategy when President Bush first unveiled his proposal - immigration reform - and Senator McCain backed it? And there were some leading Republicans who backed it. That proposal failed in Congress and it has been dropped. And now people don't seem to be - they don't seem to want to talk about that anymore.

: 1998 was his gubernatorial reelection campaign in Texas. What made him the standout Republican candidate nationally, it was his ability to get Mexican-American votes in Texas. The best example is that he won El Paso County, which I think hadn't voted Republican for a statewide office in something like 40 years. He won it in 1998 by about 400 votes. So Bush made a big push. But I think, again, it's a simplification of the national newspapers to say this was to court Hispanics. This is also - this was a governor of a border state. This is a business governor. It was business groups that he was appeasing as much, if not more, than Hispanic voters. I mean, the people make the mistake...

: You mean the businesses that are hiring immigrants to work there.

: So to have the Republicans not go after Latinos is to have the Democrats get lazy again and to have the Latino voter no longer courted in the way they were in 2000. That's unfortunate because I think for - for the benefit of the Latino electorate, I think they want both parties heartily courting their support.

: Gregory Rodriguez, thanks for joining us.

: Thanks for having me.

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