MSNBC’s Toure: Conservatives Have Been Successful at ‘Demonizing Immigrants’

The folks on MSNBC's The Cycle have gone on the offensive regarding immigration, moving from defending President Obama to bashing the supposed bigotry that exists on the right, naturally. On the July 9 edition of program, the panel and guest Eric Schneiderman of Salon were virtually unanimous in their criticism of the Republican Party on immigration.

Toure pointed to what he believed is a contradiction within the Republican Party: that the business community which generally supports Republicans tends to be pro-immigration reform, while the base largely opposes such reform. He them attempted to explain this dilemma by accusing the right of bigotry: [MP3 audio here; video below]

But they've been also successful for decades using the culture wars, and especially demonizing immigrants. And those two things don't really mesh in one party.        

Predictably, Scheiderman seconded Toure’s assumption, particularly noting business support from the Chamber of Commerce, a group that traditionally supports Republicans but has often faced heat from conservatives because it is more crony-capitalist in orientation than amenable to true free market principles.

Token “conservative” Abby Huntsman chimed in, arguing that there was in fact plenty of support for comprehensive immigration reform on the right: “There are a number of Republicans, maybe not lawmakers, but Republicans out there, religious leaders, business leaders.”

After mentioning a study by Pew Research about the divide between Tea Party types and business Republicans, co-host Krystal Ball played a clip from Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who stated that immigration reform would harm the Republican Party. Replying to that, Ball contended that conservative opposition to immigration reform could result from the idea that “if you have a bunch of new citizens, they are likely to vote Democratic and that's going to be a bad thing for the Republican Party.”

Schneiderman agreed, and then suggested that because the Republican establishment is more worried about the “far-right” than the left, they simply can’t support immigration reform:  

Well we just talked about how the fact is, they're worried more about the far right. And so they can’t be for that. And so the problem is, how to get around this problem is an attempt to disenfranchise groups who aren't for them. We see it with voter ID Laws. We see it here trying to deprive citizenship of Hispanic voters who they fear will be for the Democrats. He just gave away the whole game right there.

While in a few instances the media have attacked the president for his fiddling on the border crisis– including at the Lean Forward network – the co-hosts of The Cycle have stuck to the sort of trite ‘blame conservatives’ talking points being peddled by the Obama administration.

The relevant portion of the transcript is below:

MSNBC
The Cycle
July 9, 2014
3:08 p.m. Eastern

TOURE, host: I think there's many reasons not to [go to the border]. The cameras are there constantly showing what's going on there. That would be political theater that could be very disruptive to what's actually going on there. And the real issue is not whether or not the president will go to the border for a photo op. The real issue is that Republicans are standing in the way of meaningful immigration reform and have been for decades now. And you know, it's actually an interesting issue, actually, for the GOP because they are the party of business, giving business whatever they want. We have the farming, the restaurant--and the farming communities are saying, we want this done. Hotel business community, we want this done. But they've been also successful for decades using the culture wars, and especially demonizing immigrants. And those two things don't really mesh in one party.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, Salon: That's right. Right now the Chamber of Commerce is absolutely in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Lots of business groups want this. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, ultimate businessman politician.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, host: There are a number of Republicans, maybe not lawmakers, but Republicans out there, religious leaders, business leaders.

SCHNEIDERMAN: Absolutely, exactly. Churches, rank and file voters – but the problem is, you have Republican lawmakers, especially in the House of Representatives, who are more worried about losing via a primary from the right than a general election. And who comes out to vote in the primary from the right? It's the same people who kicked Eric Cantor out of office and brought in Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in Utah. They're more worried about those people than the other side.

TOURE: You even have Rubio, gang of eight, and then he switches sides.

BALL: To your point,  Pew Research did a study showing there was a deep divide in the Republican Party between essentially the Tea Party types and the business types. I mean they could not be more different on how they view immigration. But uh, Congressman Louie Gohmert has some deep thoughts on this crisis on the border. Let's take a listen.

LOUIE GOHMERT: In the end, they have said they want to turn Texas blue, they wanna turn America blue. And if you bring in hundreds of thousands or millions of people and give them the ability to vote and tell them, as some, Quico Canseco said he had illegals in his district that were told if you want to keep getting the benefits, you have to go vote. And President Obama's lawyer is not going to allow them to ask for an ID so go vote or you’re gonna lose your benefits. That drives people to vote. It will ensure that Republicans don't ever get elected again.

KRYSTAL BALL, host: Nice little conspiracy theory there. Rick Perry has also sort of alluded to the same conspiracy theory that we are intentionally bringing over undocumented immigrants to vote, but I think there is a sense in the Republican Party that one reason not to do comprehensive immigration reform is that then if you have a bunch of new citizens, they are likely to vote Democratic and that's going to be a bad thing for the Republican Party.

SCHNEIDERMAN: Yeah, clearly this is how they think. I mean he brought that whole idea up. No one on the left was saying this. And so he came up with this idea it's all about voting so you get a lens into how he's seeing the issue which is the following way. Right after 2012 when Mitt Romney lost, the Republican Party knew they had a problem. They lost the Hispanic vote by 40 points. We all know they commissioned this autopsy report that said, what did we do wrong, we need to figure out how to do better with these voters. One of the things they came up with was we have to do better with Hispanic voters by being for comprehensive immigration reform. Well we just talked about how the fact is, they're worried more about the far right. And so they can’t be for that. And so the problem is, how to get around this problem is an attempt to disenfranchise groups who aren't for them. We see it with voter ID Laws. We see it here trying to deprive citizenship of Hispanic voters who they fear will be for the Democrats. He just gave away the whole game right there.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.