But officials also concluded, over the long haul, the Republicans' get-tough message ultimately will alienate millions of Latinos, the fastest-growing minority group in the United States, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
White House strategists said President Obama's call for legislation that would recognize the role of immigrants and would extend beyond punishing undocumented workers would help strengthen a political relationship between Democrats and Hispanics. And even though Obama is unlikely to press for comprehensive immigration reform this year, he has urged allies to pressure Republican lawmakers.
"Look, the Republicans, if you do the math, cannot be successful as a national party if they continue to alienate Latinos," one Democratic strategist told the Post.
"The president fundamentally understands that this is about the longer term," said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza. "Your answer on this question will reveal to us whether you do or don't understand our community."
Lionel Sosa, an adviser on Latino issues to GOP candidates, including George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, told the Post the Republican Party must exercise care about how its policies are received in the Hispanic community.
"We must care about the people that we lured here to do the jobs we don't train our children to do," Sosa said. "If we forget those people, we are going to do ourselves a great disservice. That comes off as insensitive, uncaring to the Latino community."
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