In GOP Response, SC Governor Defends Immigrants

January 13, 2016 by staff 

In GOP Response, SC Governor Defends Immigrants, Americans should resist “the siren call of the angriest voices” in how the nation treats immigrants, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said as the GOP used its formal response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to try softening the tough stance embraced by some of its leading presidential candidates.

Haley, herself the U.S.-born daughter of Indian immigrants, said Tuesday that the country is facing its most dangerous security threat since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That was a reference to the Islamic State group, which has taken credit for attacks in Paris and elsewhere and may have inspired last month’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

“During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said in her prepared remarks. “We must resist that temptation.”

Haley did not mention the GOP presidential race. But the front-runner so far, Donald Trump, has called for deporting millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Two other contenders, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have battled over which of them has the tougher record on the issue.

No one who works hard and follows the laws “should ever feel unwelcome in this country,” she said.

Mentioned by some as a potential vice presidential candidate, Haley said the U.S. should continue admitting “properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion” – an apparent reference to calls by Trump to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country. She also hewed closely to long-time GOP demands in the immigration debate, saying: “That does not mean we just flat out open our borders.”

The nation’s youngest governor at 43, Haley also seemed to try smoothing some of her party’s more combative edges. She said Republicans “would respect differences in modern families” – perhaps suggesting more tolerance toward same-sex couples – and said it isn’t necessary “to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference.”

Without offering specifics, she said that while Democrats bear much responsibility, Republicans “need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and recognize why our government is broken.”

Haley has gained national prominence for helping to end the display of the Confederate battle flag on Statehouse grounds last year after half a century, a move that followed last June’s slaying of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. She also got attention after catastrophic flooding that battered her state in October.

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