“They said: ‘Look at the numbers. We have to do something because of the numbers,’” he said.
However, Huelskamp said that Republican Senator John McCain failed to attract much Hispanic support in his 2008 presidential campaign despite having crafted and pushed a sweeping immigration bill the year, before that was ultimately rejected.
McCain picked up 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 against Obama, just 4 percentage points more than last year’s Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney ended up with against Obama four years later.
Brooks said the political benefit to Republicans should not matter.
“We can’t afford to give amnesty to every person who wants to illegally cross our borders,” he said. “We don’t have enough money in our piggy bank. Amnesty begets more amnesty.”
“I cannot in good conscience ratify illegal conduct with my vote. Any Republican who advocates ratifying illegal conduct with their vote is subverting the very principles that made the United States a great nation,” Brooks added.
Few Republican strategists claim the party will gain many votes any time soon among Hispanic voters simply by supporting immigration reform.
However, most think it important to at least avoid the image of being anti-Hispanic or anti-immigrant so that they can eventually build a base of support among Hispanics.
“We have to have immigration reform to neutralize the charge that we are anti-Hispanic,” said Ron Bonjean, a former Republican congressional leadership aide turned political strategist.
“If Republicans refuse to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we will become obsolete as a party within 10 years,” Bonjean said.
“We aren’t going to win any votes if we do immigration reform, but we might actually do the right thing for America, which is the most important thing,” said Representative Raul Labrador, a Republican and a member of a group of eight House members seeking to craft a bipartisan bill of their own.
According to a Washington Post-ABC poll released on Friday, 58 percent of all US citizens support a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally, but 52 percent of Republicans oppose it.
Among these Republicans, 67 percent said they could not back a congressional candidate who voted for it.
The poll of 1,001 adults was conducted between May 16 and May 19, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.