Congressman Mo Brooks: Republicans oppose immigration reform because “it changes the voter pool”

What is it with Republicans saying exactly what they mean these days?

Earlier today, Congressman Mo Brooks (R – AL) called on Paul Ryan to not bring comprehensive immigration reform to a vote if he becomes the next Speaker of the House, but not because such a bill is a bad idea. Rather, as he told TalkingPointsMemo, “Immigration is far and away the most important problem facing America because it changes the voter pool, thereby controlling the outcome of every single public policy challenge America faces.”

Brooks’s comments confirm what has been thus far understood but unsaid in the debate over immigration reform: It has nothing to do with the relative security of our borders and everything to do with preventing millions of Latino immigrants from taking part in the political process. As Latinos, along with all other non-white voters, favor Democratic candidates by vast margins, immigration reform that included a pathway to citizenship would be disastrous for Republicans’ political prospects.

With comments like these, it isn’t too hard to figure out why such a big gap in Latino support exists in the first place.

Mo Brooks, via Wikimedia Commons

Mo Brooks, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week, Brooks sent a letter to Ryan asking, in slightly less direct terms, that he pledge to keep immigration reform off the table as Speaker. As he wrote, “Struggling American families have lost more than 8 million job opportunities to illegal aliens. All lower and middle income American workers have suffered from suppressed wages caused by the surge in both illegal alien and lawful immigrant labor supply.”

According to Brooks, Ryan agreed and will avoid immigration under his tenure as Speaker.

It’s unclear exactly how Brooks thinks this ardent opposition to immigration reform on electoral grounds is going to play out in the long term. Blocking immigration reform may prevent millions of Latino immigrants from casting ballots in the short term, but it positively infuriates millions of Latino citizens, who constitute our nation’s largest minority group.

And while it may take a long time, sooner or later comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen. There simply isn’t any other feasible option for handling our undocumented immigrant population. Republicans can block it for as long as they hold the House, but they won’t hold the House forever — especially not if they continue to swim against our country’s demographic stream — and the longer they hold out, the more aggrieved those eventual citizens will be once they are able to exercise their voting rights.

So a tip ‘o the hat to Mo Brooks for going on record to say what everyone already knew, and a wag o’ the finger to Mo Brooks for thinking that this is in any way a moral or electorally viable strategy. All the GOP is doing is staving off the inevitable, which generally isn’t a good position for a political party to find itself in.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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