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The 2012 election was a game changer for immigration reform, and thanks to unprecedented Latino turnout and a recognition by both political parties of their growing political power, the prospects for enacting bipartisan immigration reform have never been stronger.
On a press call and webinar today, Latino Decisions along with national immigration, Latino and labor leaders discussed the results of a nationwide poll of Latino voters that reveals their current perceptions of the two major political parties and the role that immigration reform plays in shaping these views.
According to Matt Barreto, Principal at Latino Decisions and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington:
Both parties know well that Latino voters care very deeply about comprehensive immigration reform. The data confirms without question that Latino voters are paying close attention to the immigration debate in Congress and politicians stand much to gain by supporting comprehensive reform.
The poll conducted by Latino Decisions and sponsored by America’s Voice/Service Employees International Union (SEIU)/ National Council of La Raza (NCLR) shows how both political parties stand to gain or lose with Latino voters, depending on how they address comprehensive immigration reform. Among the poll’s highlights:
According to Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director of Immigration and National Campaigns at NCLR:
Where it comes to courting Latino voters, it is clear that candidates matter, issues matter, and meaningful outreach is essential. Immigration is a defining issue, and the message here is that Democrats need to deliver, and Republicans need to be part of the solution if they expect to rebuild their relationship with this growing electorate. The opportunity is there, the moment is now, and Latino voters are engaged and watching.
Added Eliseo Medina, Secretary Treasurer of SEIU:
This poll is also flashing a big warning light to Congress. Latinos have heard the comments by members of Congress and Republican leaders, off the cuff or deliberate, about legalization but no citizenship. And they oppose that approach in no uncertain terms. They know that no citizenship means second class status and a rejection of our family members, friends, and co-workers as a part of our society. That notion is flat out wrong and unacceptable. If it was a trial balloon, it is time to reel it in because it won’t fly.
This new poll falls on the heels of the release of a new set of data from Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress, which projects the growth of Latino and other minority voters in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 election cycles.
Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
The takeaway for both parties from this poll it’s that immigration reform is a defining issue for Latino voters and a candidate’s position on this issue matters intensely. Democrats enjoy a huge advantage and have much to gain by enacting reform. But it’s also true that if Republicans in Congress help pass a law that includes a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million Americans-in-waiting, they have a chance to reset their image with Latinos. Failure to do so, will represent a setback for Democrats but a near mortal blow to Republicans.