The Republican Party has for years been in a quandary about how to address the issue of illegal immigration honestly and firmly without sounding racist. A good place for the party to start would be to knock off the brown-face minstrel show routine they learned from Democrats.
When Democrats "fight" for illegals, they talk about wanting to grant them amnesty for their crimes, welfare for not working and free health care. This way, Democrats presume, millions more will become addicted to the pitiful, slow-drip government teat and the party will enjoy another plantation of impoverished, enslaved voters for decades to come.
If Republicans are smart and genuinely serious about addressing the scourge of illegal immigration, they will reject these Democratic assumptions that illegals are intent on nothing more than being lazy deadbeat scofflaws and denounce Democrats for such a deviously racist portrayal.
In the decades since the last time the federal government supposedly sealed the border with Mexico, some 12 million people have "sneaked" into the country illegally. Some overstayed visas, but many millions more cheated death by crossing harsh deserts for hundreds of parched miles, guided only by murderous guides known as "coyotes" and leaving behind brutal lawlessness that most Americans cannot imagine.
Only a greasy, heartless politician would cast his eye upon this wretched display of personal human carnage, greedy criminal enterprise and bureaucratic malfeasance and see a way to use it to his own personal electoral advantage.
It is the sort of ruthless scheme we might expect from Harry Lime in "The Third Man."
"Nobody thinks in terms of human beings," Lime explains after he is exposed flooding the market with diluted penicillin that is killing orphans in postwar Vienna.
"Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs. It's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I."
And so does the Democratic Party.
That plan is predicated on the idea that all these illegals — and basically anyone else who yearns to come to America — merely aspire to be lazy, freeloading criminals.
Republicans should counter this smear with a different and far more hopeful vision.
Republicans should celebrate hard work. Many of these illegals know something about hard work.
They should celebrate the value of that work by denouncing pernicious taxes. These people know something about the disincentives of taxation.
Republicans should celebrate the risk-taking that makes millionaires out of paupers in a free market like America's. These people — especially those who sneaked across the desert — know something about taking risks in life.
Republicans should celebrate self-reliance. These people — many of whom have toiled in the shadows for years — know something about self-reliance.
Above all, Republicans should celebrate the rule of law that makes America the beacon of freedom that it is.
At present, the rule of law is a bit of a hard pill for these illegals to swallow, since they happen to be on the wrong side of the law today. But they should be reminded again and again that the rule of law in America is the whole reason they came here in the first place.
More important, it is the very reason so many legitimate immigrants have come to America legally.
Now the only hope for America is for Republicans to be brave, stand up and start making these arguments directly to Hispanic voters. And leave the minstrel shows to Democrats. And the Harry Limes of the world.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @charleshurt.