Talk radio’s window into why the GOP base resists immigration reform

If you want to hear what the base voters of the Republican Party are thinking, tune to…talk radio!

This is especially true when the radio hosts themselves are former Republican officials and office holders, as is the case with former CU regent Tom Lucero and former Larimer County GOP executive Devon Lentz, who hold forth as co-hosts in the mornings on KFKA radio in Greeley.

Lucero and Lentz were worked up Wednesday morning about immigration, as they’ve been in the past, and their conversation gives us a local window into the reasons the immigration-reform bill seems to have hit a brick fence in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Lucero can’t understand why Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who’s been pushing federal immigration reform, would promote a bill that offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“I think if Rubio were serious about it,” said Lucero on air Wed., “he would have come out with just two bills that dealt with employment, and border security. But he got sucked in, in Washington D.C., and now you’re talking about a pathway to citizenship; you’re talking about people with the opportunity to vote within ‘x’ number of years.”

“We’re rewarding people that are here illegally!” responded Lentz.

“Exactly!” said Lucero

“The rules are in place for a reason!” Lentz added. “Enforce ‘em, and let’s move forward from there!  Not change them!  Because somebody has violated rules for ten years, doesn’t make it acceptable. Let’s make an exception to the rule for them?”

Lucero and Lentz (like Rep. Cory Gardner) clearly aren’t happy with the bipartisan Senate proposal to ramp up border security, with specific milestones, as comprehensive immigration reform moves forward.

“Let’s start with border security,” Lucero told his listeners, who you could almost see nodding out there in conservative radioland. “Keep those out that want to come in, and those that are here, they’re here.  So then we deal with it after the border is secure.  First, first – first step has to be border security.”

Is Rubio dividing the GOP, wondered Lucero and Lentz.

Lucero thinks Rubio has put Republicans in an “awkward position.”

Lucero feels the pressure that Rubio puts on him and Tea-Party Republicans: “If Marco Rubio supports it, why can’t you?  Marco Rubio is quote/unquote one of those Tea Party renegade senators in the U.S. Senate and if a conservative like Rubio can support it, why can’t you?”

“I don’t know that [Rubio is] dividing the Party,” Lucero said on the radio, “but he’s not making it easy for Republicans out there that don’t support comprehensive immigration reform–Republicans who support ‘secure the borders, all borders, all ports of entry,’ and who want an employment verification system. Yeah, Marco Rubio is making it difficult on those of us who believe in that. That’s my conclusion.”

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