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Ann Coulter is wrong about immigration

By Charles Garcia, Special to CNN
Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pundit Ann Coulter criticized GOP leaders about their stance on immigration reform
  • Charles Garcia: It is Coulter who is out of touch with the goals of the Republican Party
  • He says the GOP is endorsing immigration reform with a newly released report
  • Garcia: Prominent Republicans see the need to reform a problem that needs repair

Editor's note: Charles Garcia, who has served in the administration of four presidents is the CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a business focused on the Hispanic market. He was named in the book "Hispanics in the USA: Making History" as one of 14 Hispanic role models for the nation. Follow him on Twitter: @charlespgarcia

(CNN) -- Amid the mish-mash of potential presidential contenders at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, pundit Ann Coulter didn't disappoint her supporters by brandishing once again the language of racialist politics.

It was no surprise that she used immigration reform to inflame the right. She has depicted Latinos as "a deluge of unskilled immigrants pouring into the country," and she'll explain to anyone who will listen that immigrants are looking for little more than the next government handout. Her deep ignorance of both the American Latino community and immigration reform is shameful.

Among her fiery comments was an attack on GOP politicians Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the "endless Bushes," New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie and others who have publicly voiced support for immigration reform. Coulter alleged that Republican politicians are speaking out in favor of immigration reform because they "panicked" reacting to the lackluster voter support last November. And, she proudly announced, from now on she will be a single-issue voter against "amnesty for illegals."

Charles Garcia
Charles Garcia

But just a few days later, her remarks seem especially out of touch, given the report released Monday by the GOP entitled "Growth and Opportunity Project." As opposed to Coulter's assessment of panic in the ranks, it seems that finally Republicans are waking up and taking a clear-eyed view to how to keep their party alive.

The report prescribes an overhaul of the party, including a flat-out endorsement of immigration reform. The party, the report states, "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform," including a recommended $10 million outreach effort that includes hiring national political directors for Hispanic, Asian-Pacific and African-American voters.

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For the past several years, many members of the GOP have rejected any kind of immigration package that would legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Some of those politicians (including Mitt Romney) have gone so far as to support state anti-immigrant laws that sought "self-deportation," like Arizona's SB 1070. Drawing this type of arbitrary line in the sand against any kind of legalization proposal seriously damaged the GOP's reputation among the Latino voting bloc, which overwhelmingly supported Obama for president.

Which is why the party is changing its tone. Republicans like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are following the footsteps of Ronald Reagan in recognizing that the way to move this country forward lies in the sometimes messy, complicated task of seeking a solution to the immigration problem, not in bright-line denouncements like Coulter's sound bites.

And in a significant move on Monday, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, who just won the Washington Times-CPAC presidential preference straw poll, endorsed a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Contrary to what Coulter would have the CPAC audience believe, prominent Republican leaders are not panicked; they are looking for commonsense ways to tackle the broken immigration system, and have clearly stated that they are not interested in giving anyone a free pass to legalization. They've made it clear that any possible immigration package requires additional measures to secure the border, hefty fees for undocumented immigrants and a lengthy waiting period before eligible applicants are permitted to regularize their immigration status in the United States.

Jeb Bush explains immigration position
Paul, Rubio standouts at CPAC

Along these lines, on Monday, Republican members of the Senate's Gang of Eight pushed to augment the period of time that an undocumented person would have to maintain legal permanent residency before applying for citizenship. The proposal extends the current waiting period from eight to 10 years. The negotiated time frame would permit applicants to naturalize three years after gaining legal permanent residency for a total of a 13-year path to citizenship. This proposal is on par with the current citizenship process, except that it would extend the period for permanent residency and shorten the period for naturalization.

This development underscores the fact that the GOP does not support a fast-track legalization plan for people who are unlawfully present in the country.

Despite Coulter's assurances to the contrary, the negotiated principles that Rubio and other members of the Senate's Gang of Eight have proposed are not attempts to provide "amnesty to illegals." The Republicans who support the measures are not weak or desperate. Instead, they are demonstrating leadership by looking for a smart solution to a complex problem by trying to reach a fair, yet stern, deal with Democratic politicians.

Coulter's smug rally to become "single-issue voters" smacks of panic she accuses others of experiencing. Her take on immigration is exactly the kind of ill-informed and short-sighted stance that has caused the GOP to lose supporters.

She can't be pleased with the timing of the release of her own Party's report, which proclaims in no uncertain terms that immigration reform must be embraced, not dismantled. It is Ann Coulter's views that are truly out of step with the leadership and the goals of the only Party that will have her.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Charles P. Garcia.

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