After careening through the November elections with a fraction of the minority vote, a reasonable person would be lead to believe a significant amount of public relations, outreach and reputation repair would be in order to improve the GOP image among groups like women and Latinos. Alas, the GOP isn't known for its penchant to change. Pennsylvania GOP Congressman Lou Barletta made the following statement on Monday:
“Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken. The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. [Latinos] will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”
That's not even the worst of it. It's one thing to espouse xenophobic, ethnically insensitive language; it's another to take action on those prejudices. Barletta has done just that though: he has become a co-sponsor of the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013. The legislation is aimed at so-called "anchor babies" insomuch that it targets Latino children born in the U.S. to non-citizens. Currently anyone born on U.S. soil is considered a "natural born citizen" of the nation by right of being born on the nation's soil regardless of his or her parents' citizenship status. Never mind that the first section of the Fourtheenth Amendment to the Constitution grants this citizenship - the GOP seem to forget about those parts of the Constitution they don't agree with (much like the religious fundamentalists in their party similarly cherry-pick the portions of the Bible that help their arguments). The first section of the amendment reads:
“Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
As most delusional Republicans normally do, Barletta claimed the Fourteenth Amendment really doesn't apply to all people (sort of like civil rights don't really apply to all people); no, despite the inclusive wording, he claims that the section applies exclusively to African-American slaves (despite legal precedents over the last few decades that prove otherwise).
Republican Senators working in the "Gang of 8" on comprehensive immigration reform can't be too happy about Barletta's unsolicited commentary on the Latin community - especially in an era where Republicans have to go to retreats to learn how not to offend people. To his credit, s Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on Sunday's edition of ABC’s This Week, “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.” This statement came one day prior to Barletta's now-infamous statements that have damaged any leverage the GOP had in negotiating with their Democratic counterparts.