The Don’t “Deport Nikki Haley” trap the GOP should not fall for, again

By Alex Gonzalez


The Wall Street Journal had very provocative headline titled Deport Nikki Haley published Wednesday evening. And though it was supposed to be a defense of the South Carolina governor and a newfound Republican approach to rebuke Donald Trump inflammatory remarks on Immigration, it also showed how Republicans are clinging the same old myth arguing  that only “legal immigration” is good for the U.S.

The WSJ wrote that in in her speech Gov. Haley :

articulate conservative” who has won two gubernatorial elections in the state… “It’s a sign of the GOP’s distemper that some conservatives denounced her because she didn’t denounce legal immigration.”

The WSJ Editorial was written to show that the Trump-ians and the Cruz-ers will never agree to even legal immigration, those Indian immigrants’ parents of Gov. Haley, and therefore, they refuse to support “governing Republican policies.” Thus, “deporting” Gov. Haley is to show how the nativists politics of Trump and Cruz are mostly uncompromising demagoguery since they even oppose legal immigration.

However, this is the same trap Republicans in Congress have fallen for in the past when they have tried to appease this nativists who claim they “support legal immigration.” This argument also corners Republicans into supporting only “legal immigration,” but negates the real thorny issue of what we do with people already here –  about 11 million who are already integrated into the fabric of this nation, culturally and economically, especially in state with large Hispanic population the southwest that depend on undocumented workers.

For example, the Labor Department estimates that:

The states with the highest portion of their population as illegal immigrants are Nevada, California, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Maryland, Georgia, and New York. Over ten percent of Nevada’s labor force is comprised of unauthorized immigrants, followed by California (9.4%), Texas (8.9%), and New Jersey (8.2%). A total of 8.1 million unauthorized immigrants are in the labor force.

A as result, when Gov. Haley says that my parents came legally, and therefore, it proves that the GOP is pro-immigrant, it send the wrong the message because Republican are not dealing with actual problems – what to do with 11 million already here.

The small number of Immigrants like Nikki Haley’s parents did not build the economies of  the Southwest the same way Hispanic immigrants workers – who “illegally” and  officially are about 10% of the labor force – built and sustain the economies of Southwester states. So Gov. Haley’s Indian “legal immigrants” angle may in fact be a meaningless symbolic tokenism to appeases the “angriest voices” that at the end will not event care for this argument. The real problem, and some are already saying it, is they have made a mistake in opposing immigration reform.

Others complained that the party has come up short in achieving the goals it laid out in the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” a post-2012 report that outlined the obstacles the GOP faced to expanding its appeal. Among the suggestions: taking steps to win over minorities and softening its opposition to immigration reform.

As a governor,  Nikki Haley probably does not want to talk about how 10% of the labor pool in Texas or California, or what would have happened if we did not have these workers. So she pushed they is myth that only legal immigration is good for the economy. She avoided the real issue, as notices by Jacob L. Vigdor from the Manhattan Institute.

America’s Real Immigration Challenges.
Available data indicate that America’s border-security problem has been solved, but many other immigration challenges remain. Millions of illegal immigrants continue to reside in the U.S.—staying, in many cases, because they know they won’t be able to return if they leave. Illegal immigrants to the U.S. increasingly arrive on temporary visas and do not leave when their visas expire. American firms in many industries, from software to agriculture, worry that they won’t have access to the workforce needed to expand.

By focusing on border security, the 2016 presidential contenders have avoided these more complicated issues. Though doing so may be a savvy campaign strategy, America’s next president will need to tackle the country’s real immigration challenges.  

The headline the WSJ Editorial Board  was to underscore why Gov. Haley should not be deported – her parents came legally and it shows the GOP is pro-immigrant.  But this narrow argument corner Republicans in Congress about the people that are already here. And thus, they  are running the risk of falling into the same trap they felt two years ago when they attempted to appease the nativists in House of Representatives by avoiding a vote an immigration and claiming that they were pro-immigrants – “legal immigration.”


Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst, Founder of Latino Public Policy Foundation (LPPF), and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to or @AlexGonzTXCA

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