A debate among Republican gubernatorial candidates in Georgia this week illustrated just how far the GOP (particularly in the South) has drifted from the impulse that led George W. Bush and John McCain to support comprehensive immigration reform back in the day. Now it’s all about deporting the undocumented pronto, and the only difference of opinion is over how many public employees need to spend their time in the dragnet for illegals.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway, candidate Eric Johnson, who’s struggling to land a runoff spot, came out for requring both teachers and hospital employees to verify the citizenship status of their patrons. Candidate Nathal Deal professed frustration that few cops in Georgia viewed themselves as immigration enforcement officers, but did draw the line at teachers being enrolled in the chore.
All the GOP candidates, of course, supported the idea of Georgia enacting a law like Arizona’s; this is a position that’s becoming as much a litmus test for southern Republicans as attacking unions. That will become significant nationally in 2012 when the Republican presidential nomination contest moves south.
This item is cross-posted at The Democratic Strategist.