- Posted September 1, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Election 2012: Your stories
By going through the current Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’s plan for immigration, one can begin to see a clearer picture of what is needed to bridge the gap between Latino voters. The former Massachusetts Governor. Romney had this to say on a September 2011 speech to the Republican National Hispanic Assembly Convention in Tampa, Florida "I think number one, we should secure our border, and number two, we should put in place an employment verification system”. Romney also opposes any legislation with an amnesty-provision. More up to date, Frank Sharry of the Huffington Post stated on August 31, 2012 that “During the Republican primaries Mitt Romney ran hard to the right on immigration. He vowed to veto the DREAM Act, to pursue "self-deportation" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America and to embrace an Arizona-style crackdown as a "model" for the nation.”
If these proposed policies don’t make a Hispanic squirm, I don’t know what will. The levels of incompetent and flawed deportations have been well documented. PBS’s Frontline has taken particular aim at Secure Communities, a mechanism that tracks immigration violators through fingerprint data. The University of California, Berkeley Law School, in conjunction with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law conducted a study regarding secure communities. Among it’s findings include: “93% of those arrested are Latinos, even though they account for 77 percent of the entire undocumented population” and “only 24% of individuals arrested via Secure Communities had a lawyer present during an immigration hearing”. The pressure agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement undergo to meet quotas for deportations have also been subject to scrutiny.
Republican prospects of picking up a large number of Latino voters seem grim. A recent poll conducted by ABC News states “Two-thirds of Latino registered voters identify as Democrats, and 68 percent say they’d support Obama over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a hypothetical match-up.” If this is any indication of the future, Republicans need to act quick and either find issues where they can appeal to Hispanics, tweak their stance on immigration and/or explain to the Hispanic community what makes there plan better and why the alternatives are unfavorable for them.
It is important to note that Hispanics are not the sole contributors to the immigration influx. Also, immigration is not what all Hispanics care about, nor is it the sole issue of concern. Hispanics have the same issues in mind as other Americans do.
Obama must rekindle his Hispanic base by tapping into this multi-issue anxiety and engage in a policy discussion that transcends immigration. Rather than seeking to please Hispanics through solely immigration initiatives, Obama must engage Hispanics as the multi-issue electorate they are.
Republicans seem hesitant to strike at Obama’s weakening relationship with Latino voters, and with good reason. Latino voters strongly support President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party despite dissatisfaction with the administration's deportation policies, according to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. Obama's diminishing popularity perhaps gives Republicans an opening with Hispanics- but the current front-runners aren't very well positioned to take advantage of it. Obama's likely win with Hispanics by similar margins to 2008 is going to make it hard for Republicans in states where Hispanics are a key segment of the electorate. The Huffington post recently described the Hispanic value when it stated, “It is clear that the Hispanic voice matters. According to one recent report, by the 2012 election, the Latino vote will increase by 26 percent to 12.2 million voters, or 8.7 percent of the country's total.”
This election year provides numerous scenarios for one to feast on. One thing is certain, it’s only getting started. Republican voters just now have decided to rally around one candidate. ABC News reports that 56% of Hispanic registered voters “say they’ve given little or no thought to the presidential candidates in the race.” Hispanics must coalesce and recognize the political voice that they currently have and realize that if current trends continue, that voice will become even more important and hence subject to intensive persuasion.
With this in mind, questions abound: How will the Republican candidates seek to get the Hispanic vote? Will the candidate’s blatant indifference regarding Hispanics and issues such as immigration prove costly? How will Obama re-engage his crucial yet declining Hispanic base? Why aren’t Obama and the Democratic Party more forcefully painting Republicans as detrimental to the Hispanic cause? Why aren’t Democrats pouncing away at the Republican Party’s inability to connect with Hispanic voters?