Hardline opposition to a path to citizenship, DACA, and the DREAM Act have become the GOP’s new normal. Those doing best in the polls also happen to support anti-immigrant profiling and spout xenophobic rhetoric in line with Donald Trump’s own.
To meaningfully criticize Trump on immigration is political suicide, because he has the GOP base in his corner. To be labeled as “pro-amnesty” or “weak on immigration” is a death sentence.
But this isn’t pandering on their part: Cruz, Rubio, and the rest agree with him. That’s why they’re proposing the same xenophobic rhetoric and policies that have Trump polling at 35%.