[Pantoja's] reasoning is straightforward: For all the focus on outreach to Latino communities, Pantoja believes that there is a "culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party." In a letter,he cites the recent revelations surrounding Jason Richwine, a former scholar at the Heritage Foundation, and his ideas on race and intelligence. "Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions," writes Pantoja, "other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo."
And then there’s also all the GOP rhetoric about immigration. It's not hard to find examples of prominent Republicans using racially-loaded terms like "anchor babies" and "illegals" to describe unauthorized Latino immigrants and their children. Indeed, the Republican presidential primaries were soaked with derogatory rhetoric towards immigrants, and one candidate -- Texas Governor Rick Perry --began his slide to defeat after he expressed sympathy for the children of unauthorized immigrants.
Pantoja's departure from the Republican Party is instructive. Not only does it illustrate the dynamic of the last four years -- where Latino voters responded to negative Republican rhetoric by going further into the Democratic camp -- but the potential dynamic of the next decade. As Greg noted earlier this morning, conservative Republicans in the Senate are preparing to introduce a variety of "poison pill" amendments to the immigration bill —which is happening right now as we speak —designed to make the package unpalatable to supporters. Likewise, House Republicans have yet to offer their support to a comprehensive bill.
Long story short: Pablo Pantoja was sick & tired of defending the 21st Century Know Nothings and their incredibly egregious behavior. So he left the Republican Party. And as long as the Republican Party continues to overflow with treacherous "TEA", it will continue to struggle in its "minority outreach" efforts.
Deep down, many Republican "leaders" know this. That may be a reason why they're quickly shifting focus (back) to manufactured crises and synthetic scandals. They don't want their party's chaotic diaspora on immigration policy to take political center stage.
We've yet to see if comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) legislation can overcome the hurdles of a fragmented Republican Party, mounting "TEA" flavored opposition, deceptive fearmongering, and the distraction of manufactured crises. We've yet to see if/when Senator Dean Heller (R-46%) will finally say something on the CIR bill now moving in the Senate. Or is it just too easy for him to hide behind the shiny objects?