If you thought comprehensive immigration reform was simply a matter of time, think again.

While most older, establishment Republicans seem willing to work with Democrats on an immigration bill (and save their asses in the next general election), pro-immigrant reform Republicans won’t have to wait till their next primary to see a challenge from right-wingers. Younger, Tea Party Republicans are already on the offensive.

At CPAC, the annual conference for the nation’s conservatives, the party’s bipolar stance toward immigration reform was on full display.

Notably, many of the conservatives trotted onstage to preach the conservative gospel were the GOP’s popular Latinos.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, “Mr. DREAM Act Light” himself, avoided the immigration issue altogether:

[Rubio] served up a familiar portion of conservative red meat to CPAC attendees on Thursday, endearing himself to activists who could help propel him to a higher political office in the future.

Rubio received a rock star’s welcome before speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he used his 15-some-minute slot to extol traditional conservative positions on taxes, education, abortion, same-sex marriage and trade with China.

‘We don’t need a new idea. The idea’s America, and it still works,’ said Rubio, to major applause.

Despite Rubio’s apparent unwillingness to talk about his stance on reform — which would’ve received more than a few boos in such a venue — on the same day, Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho made clear the Tea Party’s position on immigration reform:

[Labrador] stressed during the one-hour panel discussion that he doesn’t support legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to become legal permanent residents or citizens.

Instead, the 45-year-old Puerto Rican said he favors legislation that would give undocumented immigrants a legal status. He explained this could be accomplished through a robust guest worker program that would allow undocumented immigrants to seek nonimmigrant visas to stay and work.

Labrador said it would be a “travesty” to provide a pathway to citizenship for any of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States — many of whom are DREAMers living in the shadows through no decision of their own.

Instead, the congressman thinks the country should focus on completing the border fence and rounding up undocumented immigrants like stray dogs.

It’s safe to say Labrador’s Spanish name won’t be enough to win the Latino vote next time around.

In true conservative form, Labrador even reiterated the trite accusation that Democrats have been the main saboteurs of past immigration reform efforts. He and others on the far-right fringe are under the impression that Democrats are caught between two constituency groups, Latinos and unions, and that when the time comes to pick a team, the Dems side with the unions.

But as anyone who’s read a newspaper in the past four years is well aware, the notion that the unions are opposed to immigration reform is antiquated, as the unions have supported immigration reform for some time.

Rubio may not think his party needs a new idea, but Labrador proves that Republicans most certainly need to update their reading materials.

Which brings me to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Cruz, a rising star in the GOP whose making a name for himself as a “wacko bird,” was tapped by the conservatives to close out the festivities on Saturday.

In a keynote addresse littered with praises to the Constitution, liberty and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Cruz made an extraordinary, nearly unthinkable claim: “Something is happening that hasn’t happened in a long time: We’re winning right now!”

If the Republican Party is the spitting image of winning, I’d rather be down 100 points.

The earth is crumbling beneath their feet, and yet they seem unable (or unwilling) to sense it. Shifts in the population mean the liberalization of America due to the gradual scarcity of the GOP’s key demographic: angry white guys. Republicans don’t even understand how the mood has changed in the past decade, since they haven’t yet realized that the unions now support comprehensive immigration reform.

The Republican Party is out of touch with most of the country. And still, Rubio thinks the GOP doesn’t need new ideas and Cruz insists conservatives are winning.

There’s a word for people do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It’s called insanity.

But what’s the word for someone who doesn’t even understand the result?


[Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr]

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