It’s not true that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump only represents the extreme wing or “crazies” of the GOP. As a leader in numerous polls, Trump exemplifies the party’s true colors: xenophobic, mean-spirited and pro-1 percent.
Despite how the other GOP presidential candidates or Republican leadership try to distance themselves from his vitriolic language, Trump’s boorish behavior and disdain towards Latino immigrants represents the Republican party’s political platform.
While Republican leaders have acknowledged that it’s not feasible to deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants, they have rejected a pathway to citizenship for those who live and work in America’s shadows. In lieu of citizenship, key Republican leaders propose a form of legal status without the opportunity for citizenship. Essentially, Republican leaders argue for a legalized, second-class group available for exploitable cheap labor.
What does it matter for the millions of Latino immigrants if Trump calls them pejorative names, when more diplomatic Republican leaders–like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush–concur that citizenship is not an option for those who toil from sun-up to sun-down in our fields, kitchens, front yards, factories, hospitals and other key employment sectors.
For Latinos, it’s not simply about Trump insulting Mexicans or calling Mexican immigrants “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” It’s about existing conservative policies and structural obstacles that negatively impact this historically disenfranchised group. These conservative policies and structural obstacles include residential segregation, poor public schools, lack of quality jobs, police violence, high incarceration rates, lack of access to higher education and diminished upward mobility opportunities.
By viciously attacking Latino immigrants, Trump makes it crystal clear to one of the nation’s fastest growing demographics and key voting groups that they are not wanted in the GOP. And for the minority of Latino Republicans, they must live with the fact that if a Republican miraculously prevails in the 2016 presidential election and the GOP maintains the Senate and House of Representatives, Latinos will further suffer under a nightmarish scenario.
For example, despite the fact that Latinos have one of the highest rates of uninsured in the country, the first order of business for the next Republican President might be dismantling Obamacare–before spending billions more on the U.S.-Mexico border and initiating a war against Iran.
In terms of mean-spirited behavior, while Trump continues to dominate the news with his recent tour of the U.S.-Mexico border, where he realized that one already exists, on a recent campaign tour in Iowa, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hectored an undocumented immigrant about the rule of law in front of the worker’s two distraught children. When the children asked the governor if he wanted to deport their father, who would benefit from President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, Walker offered them cold-blooded lecture.
(If Walker and fellow Republican leaders care so much about the rule of law, why are they silent when the police unlawfully kill unarmed brown and black youth and adults?)
Apart from being mean-spirited and hypocritical, Republic leaders continue to advocate for policies that benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation. For instance, by providing tax-breaks for the rich and allowing wealthy corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, Republicans engage in class warfare against working-class Latinos. By following President Ronald Reagan’s infamous “trick-down economics” (or “Reaganomics”)–the false assumption that tax breaks for the rich benefit the nation as a whole–the only thing that trickles down to working-class Latinos under this absurd premise is misery.
At the end of the day, as Trump continues to lead in state and national polls, the GOP will gradually wither away. Instead of representing the Grand Old Party, for the benefit of Hilary Clinton in 2016 and Democrats in the long run, the GOP will morph into the Grand Obsolete Party.
Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm, published by San Diego State University Press (2013). Dr. Huerta recently delivered a TEDx talk, advocating for migration as a universal human right.