Lou Dobbs' secret plot to destroy the GOP

The only immigration reform the CNN host will accept spells political disaster for Republicans.

Published June 19, 2007 3:25PM (EDT)

Give Lou Dobbs credit for honesty. After sparring on his CNN TV show Tuesday night with Sen. Jon Kyl, R.-Ariz., the GOP's point man for immigration reform, Dobbs ended the segment by thanking Kyl for appearing and then zinging him:

DOBBS: Senator Jon Kyl, as always, good to have you here.

KYL: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: And I can't wish you good luck at all.


Ha. Ha. Ha. Kyl had just explained why he thinks the current immigration bill should satisfy the "secure the borders" crowd. First, he said, no action would be taken on giving illegal immigrants any kind of legal status until certain "triggers" have been met. The triggers, said Kyl, include "hiring of 20,000 Border Patrol agents, building at least 370 miles of fencing, 300 miles of vehicle barriers, 26,000 detention spaces and on and on and on."

Second, Kyl touted the reform bill's new "employee verification system" that would supposedly "make it impossible for people to work in the United States legally unless they're authorized."

Dobbs wasn't buying any of it. Dobbs' position appears to be that there's only one acceptable political approach to illegal immigration: building a big fence between the U.S. and Mexico, right now. Secure the borders. Better that nothing at all gets enacted than any kind of compromise.

How the World Works believes that as long as there is significant economic disparity between the standards of living in the U.S. and Mexico, workers from Mexico will make their way to the United States, legally or illegally, no matter what Congress does, or how many Border Patrol officers are patrolling the fence. But never mind that. As noted here last week, the Republican Party is in a very tough spot: If Republicans give in to the Lou Dobbs contingent, and focus solely on enforcement, in isolation from any other reforms, they run the very real risk of political disaster: the long-term alienation of Hispanic voters and the normally bedrock Republican business community in the Southwest. For the GOP to survive, it has to come up with a compromise that satisfies, at least partially, the interests of all parties involved.

But Lou Dobbs can't wish the GOP any good luck at all in that task. Which leads one to wonder: Is he still a registered Republican?

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Globalization How The World Works Immigration Immigration Reform Lou Dobbs