Republicans’ inaction on immigration reform could cripple the party

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, recently announced that comprehensive immigration reform legislation would not be passed in Congress by the end of 2013, and that delay could end up hurting the Republican Party for decades, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

By comparing Boehner to two former U.S. presidents – Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson – whose policies on minority groups scarred their parties for years, the Chronicle showed how inaction by Republicans could cost them the Latino vote for the next several decades.

Unflattering comparison
While Lincoln and Johnson are revered by many, they each passed major legislation granting rights to African Americans that would impact their political parties for years to come – an entire century, in Lincoln’s case.

When Lincoln, a Republican, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an edict that freed all of the slaves in the United States, on Jan. 1, 1863, it began to right what many consider to be the greatest wrong in American history. {be more explicit about what the Emancipation Proclamation is here, as immigrants may not have the background knowledge that we have} But it also cost his party the vote of a large block of Southerners – who became known as “Dixiecrats” – for more than 100 years afterward. That only changed in the mid-1960s, when Johnson, who was a Democrat, helped usher the Civil Rights Act through Congress. That legislation granted African-Americans full legal rights, but also turned those same Dixiecrats back to the Republican Party, a voting trend that still holds to this day.

Failing to learn lessons from an election
The Financial Times also delved into the potential political ramifications of Republican inaction on immigration reform, referencing the recommendations of a fact-finding committee organized by the party after it lost the 2012 presidential election. The committee declared that Republicans had to act on reform or risk losing the Latino vote for at least a generation. Nonetheless, House Republicans seem to be ignoring that advice.