The GOP’s effort to woo Latinos may have suffered a minor setback last week, thanks to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Republicans have been trying to improve their standing with the fastest-growing voting bloc ever since last year’s election, when Latinos overwhelmingly cast their ballots for President Obama.
Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, decided that Thursday’s “mark-up” of a bipartisan immigration reform bill was a good moment to review the differences between the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border and on the U.S.-Canada border. His conclusion: Canada is nice. Mexico isn’t.
“We have a Canadian border. … Why are we OK up there and not OK to the south? … Why is one a problem and the other is not? Because Canada is a place where people like to stay. They like Canada. We like Canada. We love to have them visit. They want to go home because it’s a nice place,” said Graham. “The people coming across the southern border live in hell holes. They don’t like that. They want to come here. Our problem is we can’t have everybody in the world who lives in a hell hole coming to America.”
Fortunately for Graham, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was there to step in and assure the committee, and anyone listening to the hearing, that “while there’s poverty in Mexico and some really poor areas, it’s not a hell hole.” Moreover, he went on to suggest that Graham himself didn’t mean to describe Mexico as a “hell hole.”
But Sessions’ attempt at damage control was quickly undermined by Graham, who responded by saying: “You’re right. I wasn’t slandering Mexico; I’m just talking about all the places people want to leave, for whatever reason.”
Would that be the rest of Latin America?
No doubt, Graham is aware that Mexico’s economy is growing at a faster clip than the U.S. economy. And no doubt, he is aware that this particular “hell hole” is one of the United States’ top trade partners.