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Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee hosted a conference call with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Representative Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX-20), who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Dolores Huerta, tho co-founder of the United Farm Workers.
The trio held the call to discuss the current anti-immigrant agenda of the Republican party. Over the weekend, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, one of the champions of SB 1070, endorsed Mitt Romney. Last week, Romney stated that Arizona’s law was a model for the nation. And as we’ve reported, Romney has repeatedly promised to veto the DREAM Act. Romney has also touted the endorsements of Kris Kobach and former California Governor Pete Wilson. Kris Kobach is notoriously anti-immigrant, having authored both SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56, while Pete Wilson is the extremist who once championed Proposition 187, the precursor for Kobach’s bills.
Reid stated that on immigration, the Republican Party has catered to the “far, far right.” He said:
Unfortunately all Republicans are talking about are electrified fences, self-deportation and vetoing bills like the DREAM Act —ironically authored by a very conservative Republican.
This is no longer Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. It is controlled by extremists like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who legalized the racial profiling of Hispanics through Arizona law SB 1070.
Laws like Arizona’s and Alabama’s that open the door to discrimination against all Latinos, even those who are American citizens and legal residents, do not represent American values.
I am greatly concerned that Mitt Romney has accepted Gov. Brewer’s endorsement.
Gov. Romney had already recruited Kris Kobach, the author of the Arizona and Alabama laws, as his immigration advisor, and called the Arizona law a “model.”
Reid said the Republicans should learn a lesson from what happened in 2010 in Nevada, when he won a hard fought reelection with the help of Latino voters. In fact, Latino voters helped keep Reid in his job as Majority Leader, as we’ve documented:
2010: The immigration issue was key to erecting a “Latino firewall” in the West that led to Majority Leader Reid’s victory and ended the “Republican wave” at the Rockies
According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), Latinos were the deciding factor in his close race against Republican Sharron Angle in 2010. In October 2011, Senate Majority Leader Reid said, “I would not be the majority leader in the United States Senate today, but for the Hispanics in Nevada.”
Latino Decisions election eve polling from 2010 found that Reid’s margin over Sharron Angle was 90% – 8% among Latino voters. Angle ran a notoriously aggressive anti-immigrant campaign, punctuated by some of the most blatantly anti-Latino ads seen in recent political history, while Reid was a clear and strong voice in favor of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. According to exit polls, Latino turnout was up from 12% of the electorate in the 2006 mid-terms to 15% in 2010.
Immigration was a major factor in driving Latino voters to the polls for Reid. In 2010, 38% of Latino voters in Nevada said that immigration was the most important issue in determining their vote, according to Latino Decisions’ election eve polling, and another 31% said that it was “one of the most important” issues. The Las Vegas Sunquoted Gilberto Ramirez, a first-time, recently-naturalized voter from Reno, explaining why Sharron Angle’s anti-Latino ads motivated him to vote and to support Senator Harry Reid: “She was depicting me as a gang member. I served seven years in the Marine Corps.”
Reid is offering sage political advice to the Republicans, but it’s unlikely they’ll take it. Unfortunately, Kobach and Brewer are calling the shots on immigration for the GOP.