DeMint: Democrats Want Immigration Reform to Recruit 'New Voters and Union Members'

Former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint, the incoming president of the Heritage Foundation, spoke with Janet Mefferd yesterday about immigration reform and the future of the GOP.

DeMint was unhappy with President Obama’s immigration proposal and the bipartisan framework presented this week in the Senate, both of which include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Democrats, he claimed, “are much more interested in new voters and union members than they are in fixing the system and honoring our heritage of immigration.”

Unfortunately, and I’ve worked with the folks who are advocating for this for a number of years and it appears the Democrats are much more interested in new voters and union members than they are in fixing the system and honoring our heritage of immigration. I don’t think we can help our naturalized American citizens by tearing down those things that create the opportunity in our country, and border sovereignty, rule of law, those things create the freedom and opportunity that immigrants come here for. And if we change the things that make us successful then we hurt the very people that we’re saying we want to help. So this is an irrational approach in my mind. I know there’s some people involved with this who want to do the right thing and solve the problem. But I’m afraid the people driving this, like the president, are just more interested in the citizenship track than they really are fixing our system.

DeMint, the architect of the 2010 Tea Party takeover, also denied that the GOP needs to moderate its positions to appeal to more voters after its drubbing among women, young people, African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans in 2012. “We’re just not telling our story well and we’re not doing a good job of showing the victims of progressive liberal policies,” DeMint said. “And there are a lot of them around the country and minorities are the biggest victims of these policies.”

We have ideas that we want people to embrace because those ideas make our country better and lives better for Americans. So it’s easier for Obama, who just finds out what people want to hear and he tells them that. He doesn’t have to deliver any particular policy or laws. We do. But we have success stories all over. We have fantastic job creation where energy is being developed in states. We have job creation where you have freedom in the workplace not to join a union, that’s why Boeing is in South Carolina. We’re just not telling our story well and we’re not doing a good job of showing the victims of progressive liberal policies. And there are a lot of them around the country and minorities are the biggest victims of these policies. I’d say Republicans have done a miserable job of communicating. And that’s why I left the Senate. We need to take our message directly to the American people and make those ideas so winsome that candidates have to embrace them.