A Roadmap on Immigration for 2012

Recently, at a conference on the economy at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Meg Whitman did a mea culpa for the entire Republican Party and how it treats the immigration issue.

"My view is that the immigration discussion, the rhetoric the Republican Party uses, is not helpful; it's not helpful in a state with the Latino population we have," Whitman said during a brief interview following a speech at a George W. Bush Institute conference on the economy. "We as a party are going to have to make some changes, how we think about immigration, and how we talk about immigration."

Whitman was right on all points, of course. Some of us have been saying the same thing for the last several years.

Let’s face it. Whitman’s epiphany sounded a lot better than what she allegedly told her ex-housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santillan after firing her in June 2009 -- shortly before Whitman announced her candidacy for governor. Whitman had employed Santillan for nine years and treated her like what the former eBay CEO described as “a member of our extended family.” That is, before the housekeeper asked for help in legalizing her status. After that, it was: Adios, Nicky.

Diaz Santillan alleged that Whitman fired her in a phone call, saying: "From now on you don't know me, and I don't know you. You never have seen me and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?" Then, Diaz Santillan said, Whitman hung up. The housekeeper said she felt as if she had been tossed away “like a piece of garbage.”

Now Whitman is saying that the Republicans’ approach to immigration is garbage.

Personally, I think that Republicans have to figure out how to even talk about immigration without sounding like one of the characters from The Wizard of Oz. Most of the time, on this issue, Republicans either come across like the Scarecrow (no brain), the Tin Man (no heart), or the Cowardly Lion (no courage).

No brain: Rather than think deeply about illegal immigration and how to control it, as well as how to fix the immigration system so more people can come to the United States legally, some Republicans merely recite bumper sticker slogans like “Deport all illegals” or “Seal the border.”

No heart: Rather than see the current debate as simply an extension of a conversation that has been going on since the late 1770s when Benjamin Franklin warned that German immigrants would ruin the young nation, some Republicans still portray the immigrants of today as inferior or dangerous.

No courage: Rather than admit the obvious --  that illegal immigrants only come to the United States because there are U.S. employers here who hire them, some Republicans steer clear of proposing employer sanctions for fear of angering their supporters and benefactors in the business community.