The G.O.P. Is Still Doomed on Immigration, Causing 'Significant Political Damage'

The New York Times is once again trying very hard to make the G.O.P. candidates' tough stands again illegal immigration a damaging campaign issue. Saturday's entry was reported by Jennifer Steinhauer, 'Some Republicans in Congress Are Pushing Steps to Ease Immigration.' She gave congressional Republicans backhanded praise for being "more nuanced and measured" on immigration than their presidential candidates, whose trail rhetoric "bristles with talk of moats, militarization and electrified fences when it comes to illegal immigration."

It helps that Steinhauer conflates proposals to increase legal immigration (which many Republicans support) with stopping illegal immigration.

Representative Tim Griffin, a Republican freshman from Arkansas with a university in his district, supports legislation that would make it easier for foreign math and science professionals to get legal residency.

Representative Bobby Schilling, Republican of Illinois, is resisting intense pressure to support a House bill that would require employers to verify the legal status of their workers because he is concerned that businesses would be unduly burdened.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, one of the most conservative members of the chamber, recently teamed with Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat, on a bill that would provide three-year residential visas to foreign home buyers who invest at least $500,000.

While the Republican presidential campaign trail bristles with talk of moats, militarization and electrified fences when it comes to illegal immigration, the view among some Congressional Republicans has become more nuanced and measured.

Now many Republican freshmen, lacking the scar tissue of previous Congressional attempts to make sweeping changes in immigration law, are advocating that policy be changed in small, bite-size pieces that could help bring order to the system and redefine their party's increasingly anti-immigration image, even as they maintain a strong push for better federal border security.

The move comes as some leading Republican voices are warning that the view of their party among Hispanics is doing significant political damage and causing economic disruption.

'It does cause me a great deal of concern,' said Mark Shurtleff, the Republican attorney general of Utah, where the Republican-controlled Legislature recently passed a law to give some protections to illegal workers who find employment in the state. 'The rhetoric I hear from the Republican candidates, and that state legislatures that are passing enforcement-only provisions, are both damaging the economy. We ought not to be doing things to hurt the economy right now, and I think this hurts us politically.'

In addition to worrying that Hispanics are turning away from their party, some Republicans feel the heat from local employers, who need immigrant labor to fill jobs they have repeatedly been unable to fill with American workers. Others still worry about the drain of American-trained math and science students back to their home countries, where they will compete with Americans in building businesses.