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Are California Republicans Softening on Immigration?

1342516_flag.jpgIt is undeniable that foreign workers have greatly contributed to the United States economy on both the national and state levels. These incredible and far-reaching contributions are particularly felt in the state of California, where the tech industry continues to boom thanks in large part to foreign workers, entrepreneurs, and investors.

At times, it can feel as though the Republican Party refuses to acknowledge these and similar contributions that the foreign national population brings to the country. However, thankfully it looks like the California Republicans are coming around on immigration-related issues. Anti-immigration rhetoric has largely disappeared from Republican debates, as witnessed during the recent California Legislature debate on whether or not the state should give healthcare to undocumented foreign nationals.

The California Debate

Widely regarded as one of the biggest immigration debates to take place this year, the California Legislature discussed the issue of providing healthcare to undocumented foreign nationals. In years past, Republican lawmakers would not have thought twice about loudly and vehemently criticizing such a proposal. However, this year witnessed a significant change in Republican strategy as only one Republican lawmaker spoke out, and the statements she made were much more tempered than in years past.

Janet Nguyen, an Orange County Senator, affirmed that while she was open to providing healthcare access to all – regardless of immigration status – she believes that the state must be able to fund healthcare and take care of its current enrollees before bringing on more. And to be fair, Senator Nguyen’s reservations about expanding coverage are also shared by the state’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Governor Brown went so far as to threaten to veto the bill because he feels it is too expensive in its current form.

The Republican Party’s New Strategy – Adapt, Adapt, Adapt?

According to Republican strategist Hector Barajas, the shift to rhetoric that is more pro-immigration (or at least less anti-immigration) is intentional as the Party has witnessed its membership dwindle in recent years and has attributed the shrinking numbers to the Party’s stance on immigration. The Republicans are beginning to realize that voting no on too many immigration bills will result in political attacks from the growing Latino media, and in places such as California, which boasts such a large Latino population, such attacks can truly make or break a candidate’s race.

Of course, Democrats feel that the Republicans will need to change more than just their voting record in order to garner support from the Latino population.

The Rant

This statement by the Republican state senator is obviously a far cry from previous Republican arguments against providing healthcare to undocumented foreign nationals, and it hopefully signals a shift in pro-immigration rhetoric that will be echoed throughout the Republican Party across the country. Additionally, the California GOP leaders specifically are beginning to recruit more diverse candidates for local offices and positions, which represents a very meaningful step forward. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up to date news on all issues related to immigration for investors and other foreign nationals.

Additional Blog Posts:

The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012