Embracing the fringe policies and extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric of Trump is leading California Republicans into “permanent political exile.” And this warning comes from Kurt Bardella, former spokesperson for staunch Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (Vista), in an op-ed he wrote for CNN.
Democrats have long lambasted Trump for using, and complicit Republicans for embracing, vile language about immigrants. Trump started his campaign calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, and continues to use harsh and racist rhetoric when discussing immigrants. Southern California’s Republicans, such as Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa), Steve Knight (Palmdale), and Mimi Walters (Irvine), don’t speak out against Trump, and embrace his policies, no matter how extreme.
Bardella is particularly interested in the divisions sowed between the GOP and the Latino community. California is home to 10 million immigrants, and more than half are from Latin America, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In fact, as of 2015, Latinos outnumber the white population in California. And in 2016, there were 6.9 million Hispanic eligible voters in the state — the most in the nation, according to Pew.
Latinos make up a third of Knight’s district, and almost 1 in 4 of its registered voters. Rohrabacher and Walters are Orange County Republicans, a county where Latinos make up 18 percent of the electorate. Statewide, 82 percent of Latinos disapprove of Trump
“Instead of evolving with the changing demographics,” Bardella notes, “Republicans in California have continued to embrace the fringe policies and rhetoric of the most extreme edges of the GOP.
Rohrabacher is the most potent example of embracing Trump’s fringe policies and rhetoric. Rohrabacher has a long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the elevation of Trump to the White House has only emboldened the 70-year-old congressman.
Like Trump, Rohrabacher falsely links immigration to higher crime rates, when evidence and data show the opposite is true.
Rohrabacher, along with Knight and Walters, are doing nothing to help Dreamers deal with their legal limbo caused by the Trump administration. More than 4 in 5 Californians support legal protections immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers. Yet Republicans would rather idly stand by as Trump seeks to end legal protections put into place by the Obama administration.
When the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against California for efforts to protect undocumented immigrants, Republicans mostly stayed quiet.
“The reality,” according to Bardella, “is Trump’s brand of xenophobia is toxic to what little is left of the Republican Party in California.”
With embattled incumbents like Rohrabacher, Knight, and Walters embracing Trump’s policies, voters will have a chance to prove Bardella right in November.