The Republican Party isn’t typically seen as leading the charge on federal immigration reform. But in California some Republicans have become outspoken supporters of Congressional action. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.
Republican State Senator Anthony Cannella is one of two lawmakers who travelled to Washington DC this week to press for immigration reform.
Speaking by phone between meetings, he acknowledges people may find it odd a Republican is taking up this cause. And he says his party is probably 20 years behind where it should be on the issue. But Cannella’s Central Valley district has a large Hispanic population. And he says for him immigration reform is not about politics.
“When you’ve got that many people that are living the shadows they become exploited, they become preyed upon. They don’t have people to turn to in times of crisis. And I don’t think that’s the way we should be in this country,” says Cannella.
GOP-friendly groups like The California Chamber of Commerce and the California Farm Bureau Federation are also urging Congress to act.
“It’s probably gonna be too little, too late,” says Republican Political Consultant Mike Madrid, who specializes in Latino voting issues. He says it’s commendable some Republicans are making an effort to be involved in the immigration debate. But he says their sudden interest may hurt their cause.
“ This is something that is years and years in the making. And I think those with credibility, especially on the Republican side, needed to be engaged in this issue years ago,” says Madrid.
Madrid says Republicans should have taken up the issue before last year’s presidential election. He says now it may be years before they can swing more Latinos to their side.