South Carolina Republican Says Hispanic Immigrants Are Lost Cause for GOP

“I think folks are really susceptible to the call for government to provide anything from your housing to your food to your education.”

South Carolina state Senator Lee Bright (far right) after endorsing Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) at the State Capitol January 17, 2012 in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Alexia Campbell
July 17, 2014, 1 a.m.

Lee Bright rep­res­ents Green­ville and Spartan­burg in the South Car­o­lina Sen­ate and was one of six con­ser­vat­ive can­did­ates to un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenge U.S. Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham in the June GOP primary. Bright, who de­scribes him­self as South Car­o­lina’s most con­ser­vat­ive state sen­at­or, sup­ports fed­er­al le­gis­la­tion that would deny Amer­ic­an cit­izen­ship to the U.S.-born chil­dren of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants. In 2011, he sponsored South Car­o­lina’s con­tro­ver­sial SB-20, which re­quired po­lice to de­tain mo­tor­ists sus­pec­ted of be­ing in the coun­try il­leg­ally. Na­tion­al Journ­al asked Bright about the chan­ging demo­graph­ics in his dis­trict and how they af­fect his con­ser­vat­ive ideo­logy.

South Car­o­lina’s His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion has grown faster than any oth­er state in the last 10 years. How has this demo­graph­ic change im­pacted your dis­trict?

From what I’ve gath­er, we’ve got a lot of good folks here in our com­munity and a lot who are here leg­ally. It’s just that there are folks who are here il­leg­ally and we have a rule of law. I have seen cir­cum­stances in the me­dia where people say we need the work­ers. The fact is that we have a wel­fare sys­tem that is out of con­trol. We need the folks who are cit­izens and who are not work­ing to be do­ing those jobs so we can have a labor force that is here leg­ally.

You un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Sen­at­or Gra­ham in the Re­pub­lic­an primary. Be­cause of his more mod­er­ate views on im­mig­ra­tion, some people have in­ter­preted his win as a sign that South Car­olini­ans do not share your views on im­mig­ra­tion. What do you think about that?

He did not run on im­mig­ra­tion. He ran against Obama­care. He had $10 mil­lion in spe­cial-in­terest money, and he was able to craft the mes­sage that he was a con­ser­vat­ive. Not one ad men­tioned im­mig­ra­tion.

Many evan­gel­ic­al pas­tors in South Car­o­lina have re­cently star­ted speak­ing out in fa­vor of leg­al­iz­ing the status of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants, say­ing bib­lic­al scrip­ture urges Chris­ti­ans to wel­come im­mig­rants of all back­grounds. As a Baptist your­self, what are your views on this?

Well, South Car­o­lina lags Texas, North Car­o­lina, Wis­con­sin, and some oth­er states when it comes to abor­tion reg­u­la­tion. I wish our pas­tors would be more in­volved with pro­tect­ing the un­born, which is clearly a bib­lic­al man­date, than to be used as pawns by folks on the left who want to grow a demo­graph­ic that has been vot­ing Demo­crat for years.

But what about their ar­gu­ment that bib­lic­al scrip­ture is more im­port­ant than polit­ics?

The Scrip­tures also talk about the rule of law. I be­lieve that pas­tors, like any oth­er demo­graph­ic, can be used by politi­cians as pawns. And I be­lieve that if that’s the case, they could be well-in­ten­tioned, but the end res­ult for this coun­try is go­ing to be very, very neg­at­ive.

How will it be neg­at­ive?

Be­cause you’re go­ing to turn Texas blue. You’re go­ing to have folks like Harry Re­id and Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, who will have the votes to con­tin­ue this coun­try on a col­li­sion course, ba­sic­ally los­ing our sov­er­eignty and los­ing the power we have as a na­tion.

You sponsored the law that gave po­lice the au­thor­ity to de­tain mo­tor­ists sus­pec­ted of be­ing in the coun­try il­leg­ally. The state has since agreed to block the “show me your pa­pers” part of the law. Does this mean South Car­o­lina is slowly chan­ging its views on im­mig­ra­tion?

No, I think South Car­o­lina is pretty sol­id on im­mig­ra­tion. If South Car­o­lina was for am­nesty, then Lind­sey Gra­ham wouldn’t have said in that one in­ter­view the lie that he was go­ing to tell the big­ots to shut up. That state­ment there was very telling. But the fact is that Wash­ing­ton con­trols more elec­tions than the ac­tu­al states them­selves when it comes to the money that it takes to win the elec­tions. You can see that with Co­chran in Mis­sis­sippi. Wash­ing­ton has got­ten so power­ful that it has over­whelmed the states. It’s not something that happened over dec­ades, it’s something that’s happened over more than a cen­tury.

But it was the state that agreed to block that pro­vi­sion as part of the leg­al set­tle­ment. Do you not see that as a state ef­fort?

No, I think they saw what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has done in oth­er states. I’m very con­cerned about people’s in­di­vidu­al liber­ties. There was more good than bad in the deal. We want to make sure folks aren’t pro­filed, but if you are break­ing the law, then I don’t think that’s a prob­lem. I think it’s a fine line, but I think the state was look­ing at what the fed­er­al courts had done.

Some people would say that the His­pan­ic im­mig­rant com­munity in the state and your dis­trict has very con­ser­vat­ive val­ues. Do you not see an op­por­tun­ity to reach out to them as fu­ture voters or po­ten­tial Re­pub­lic­ans?

No, I think folks are really sus­cept­ible to the call for gov­ern­ment to provide any­thing from your hous­ing to your food to your edu­ca­tion. It’s a very se­duct­ive force, and folks who are here il­leg­ally are on the lower end of the so­cioeco­nom­ic plat­form when they be­come cit­izens. It’s like the black com­munity and the black church and ho­mo­sexu­al­ity. There’s no one more out­spoken against ho­mo­sexu­al­ity than the black church and yet they over­whelm­ingly voted for Obama. I think you’ll see the same thing with the His­pan­ic com­munity. They’re with us on a lot of so­cial is­sues, but they vote Demo­crat. It’s just a stat­ist­ic­al fact.

Do you think South Car­o­lina is be­com­ing less con­ser­vat­ive, or not?

South Car­o­lina is a state that’s trend­ing in the same dir­ec­tion as be­fore; it’s just a mat­ter of the money. I mean, it’s just like any­thing else, the at­ten­tion spans are very lim­ited and you have to have a tre­mend­ous amount of money to get people’s at­ten­tion. People will pay at­ten­tion to 30-second sound bites, and you have a lib­er­al me­dia that has an agenda and it’s very clear. Any­body who fol­lows the main­stream me­dia can tell there is an ob­ject­ive, and if all they’re giv­ing you is that ob­ject­ive, and if some­body doesn’t have the money to put out the mes­sage of what’s really go­ing on, then that lib­er­al beat marches on.


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