GOP trapped by its worst instincts on immigration

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives said their piece about immigration reform Wednesday. As expected, what they said wasn't pretty.

They voted to reverse last fall's executive order from President Obama that allows illegal immigrants to defer deportation if they have children who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. Over the protests of Democrats and even a few Republicans, they went still further by voting to resume deportation of illegal immigrants who had been brought here as children, the so-called "dreamers" who have been raised here as Americans and know no other home.

That's the GOP version of immigration reform, and its important to note that every Georgia Republican voted in favor of the bill, including the provision to deport dreamers.

That runs directly counter to the results of a newly released AJC poll,  which reports that 67 percent of Georgians support allowing immigrant parents of U.S. citizens to stay in the country, even if they came here illegally. Only 31 percent oppose it. If opinion in Georgia reflects that of the rest of the country, which seems likely, support for allowing the dreamers to stay would poll even higher than 67 percent.

(UPDATE: According to the poll, 59 percent of Georgia Republicans support allowing illegal-immigrant parents of U.S. citizens to stay; only 40 percent oppose it.)

In that same AJC poll, 55 percent of Georgians said they would support granting permanent legal status to longtime illegal immigrants if they pay a fine, pass a background check and meet other requirements. That's the dreaded "amnesty" that the GOP so enthusiastically rejects, and that every GOP candidate for president will be required to reject as well. Only 41 percent of Georgians said they share that opposition to amnesty.

In short, even here in Georgia, a conservative state that just re-elected Republicans to every statewide office by significant margins, the GOP's policy on immigration is considerably more harsh than public opinion would require. It comes across as meanness for the sake of being mean. If I were a Hispanic American, I might start to wonder what was motivating that.