California is often considered the nation’s trendsetter. But Republicans running for president better hope it’s not true. Their talk about immigration echoes what Californians heard in the 1990s. That’s when Proposition 187, a ballot viewed as strongly anti-immigrant, was a key to the re-election of California’s Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. . . . And over the past two decades, Republican registration in California has plummeted. It’s now just 28 percent. – From California, A Warning to Republicans on Anti-Immigration Rhetoric, Ina Jaffe, NPR, 9/15/15.
Fact Check: A certain German leader once stated that if you tell a Big Lie enough times, people will start to believe it. This article expresses a series of big whoppers. It begins with the deception that the left-wing National Public Radio somehow cares about helping the GOP. With friends like these, Republicans certainly need no enemies, and they would be well-advised to do the exact opposite of what NPR advises.
Deceptive too is the author’s suggestion that Prop. 187 was “anti-immigrant.” In fact, it was a common sense law to prevent illegal aliens from accessing public benefits that properly belonged to American citizens and legal immigrants. It was extremely popular with Californians who approved it as a ballot measure in 1994 by a margin of 59 to 41 percent of voters. Pete Wilson, the Republican candidate for governor endorsed the measure and came from behind to win the governorship by a strong margin.
This should have signaled Republicans in California and elsewhere that taking a stand against illegal immigration would be a good way to win public support. But few drew that conclusion thanks to the amazing work of media spin doctors and others spinning one of the Biggest Lies of all—that Prop. 187 was a disaster for the Republican Party.
The Lie went like this: Prop 187 angered Hispanics so much that they totally turned against the GOP, and their rising numbers and votes made it nearly impossible for Republicans ever to win statewide races. Today immigration advocates, both Democrat and cheap-labor Republicans, cite this “lesson” to GOP candidates, and warn them to avoid all criticism of immigration.
The truth is that the tide against GOP fortunes in California began long before Prop. 187. Massive legal and illegal immigration has been transforming California since the 1960s. Much of this influx has helped to create a poverty and welfare constituency, one hostile to Republicans and congenial to Democrats. This movement was apparent in 1992, two years before Prop. 187, when California voted Democratic in the presidential race and elected two Democratic senators.
Wilson’s victory, and the drawing of proper conclusions from it, perhaps could have given his party a longer lease on life in California. But the spin doctors convinced other state Republicans to accept their Big Lie. They also swayed the party outside the state not to stand against mass immigration as it began to move the rest of the country in California’s direction.
It is a myth that Prop. 187 by itself alienated Hispanics against Republicans. Hispanics, particularly those of immigrant stock, tend to oppose the GOP on general principles. Specifically, they support Big Government, as opposed to the Republican position for limited government. In any case, 30 percent of Hispanics in California still voted for Prop. 187. As for the proposition arousing lasting hatred for Republicans, that’s hard to imagine. The fact is, its major provisions never went into effect. A single federal judge overruled them, thus ignoring nearly 60 percent of Californians.
The true lesson of 187, as Donald Trump seems to understand, is that immigration restriction is a winning issue for Republicans. And if they don’t, the GOP will go the way of the Dodo Bird.