As the national Republican Party wrestles with how to deal with the growing population of immigrants who helped propel President Barack Obama to a second term, and whether they should alter their hard-line stance on immigration reforms, the discussions provide an opportunity for our own board of county commissioners to reconsider their admittedly symbolic gesture of trying to make English the official language in Carrroll.
A hearing on the English-only ordinance, which was postponed because of Superstorm Sandy, has been rescheduled for Dec. 11. Because the board cannot enact laws that override state or federal laws governing basic rights afforded to everyone, the English-only ordinance does nothing more than send a message that Carroll County is not a place that welcomes foreigners. It's an attitude that mirrors the negativity toward minorities that drove most to support Obama this week. And because minorities make up a larger percentage of the total votes - something that is only going to increase in the coming years -top Republicans say they need to find ways to bring this voting block into their tent.
Mitt Romney's view on immigration reform was more moderate before a harsh Republican primary season that saw him shift dramatically to the right in order to maintain his grasp on getting the nomination. For some extremists in the party, there is no room for moderate voices, as was evidenced by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's laser-like fall from the top of the Republican charts to the bottom simply because he enacted a law, much like the one passed in Maryland, which provides in-state tuition to some illegal immigrants.
During one primary debate, Perry said, "If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no reason than they've been brought there, by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart."
The party's extreme stand on immigration reform pushed away a substantial voting block in the presidential election and ultimately contributed to Romney's defeat. Today, top Republicans acknowledge that if they want to have a chance in 2016, they will have to reshape their image on the issue.
Standing in the way of that will be places like Carroll, where the all-Republican board wants to push through an ordinance that continues to push away minorities. The proposal also totally contradicts the county's supposed pro-business efforts. Most companies these days do business worldwide, but it is hard to imagine why any of them would want to locate in a county that adopts an English-only ordinance.
In short, from the impact on national party politics to the impact on local business growth, there are many reasons for the board to rethink adopting this ordinance. Instead of slamming the door to immigrants, our board should concentrate on opening new opportunities and moving Carroll forward.