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How 2 new Republicans want to reshape the GOP's immigration agenda

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07.06.2021

While Republicans hammer the Biden administration over rising migrant crossings at the southern border, two members of their House freshman class are swimming against the Trumpian tide to try to steer their party toward a more welcoming immigration strategy.

Florida Reps. María Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez are somewhat lonely voices in the GOP, in part because the migration influx soon after President Joe Biden took office gave Republicans an opening to paint Democrats as soft on the border. But Salazar and Giménez are promoting separate frameworks to overhaul the nation's flawed immigration system that could help their party build on the surprising inroads former President Donald Trump made with Latino voters last fall.

Both of them toppled Democratic incumbents on their way to winning last fall. And both freshmen want to see Republicans embrace a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. — albeit paths that are harder to walk than Biden and Democrats would want.

Their work to win more GOP buy-in for a comprehensive immigration plan is made more complicated, however, by the party's attraction to blunt-force messaging on border security as the Biden administration grapples with the issue.

“The problem with the border is, it's an urgency that has overshadowed the importance of us giving some type of dignity or some type of resolution to those people who have been here for more than 10 years,” Salazar said in an interview. “We're talking about 11 million people that are waiting for an answer.”

The former journalist and daughter of Cuban refugees campaigned as a new voice on immigration in the GOP and has urged fellow Republicans to join her in helping migrants hoping to gain citizenship or work permits in the U.S. Salazar, who grew up in Miami’s Little Havana area, argues that a sweeping GOP immigration proposal would help the party at the ballot box: "I am a brown girl from the ‘hood, who is a Republican, who is coming to tell my party that it’s time to wake up and smell the votes," she said in February after challenging ultra-conservative Trump adviser Stephen Miller on the matter during a........

© Politico


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