Latino voters believe that the Republican Party has little concern for their community, according to a recent survey released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. The survey, conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of NALEO, interviewed 800 Latino registered voters from Nov. 7 through Nov. 14th in 21 states with the largest Latino voter populations, accounting for 93 percent of the Latino electorate.

In an interview with Gannett News Service published this weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted his plans for the 111th Congress to both address and pass immigration reform legislation.
Reid told Gannett News, “On immigration, there’s been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. … We’ll do that.”

Today, several news organizations are reporting that Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) is a front runner for the position of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the new Obama administration. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with protecting the U.S. from terrorism and responding effectively to natural disasters, among other duties. America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry: “Governor Napolitano gets it: she knows that an integral part of securing the borders and restoring control and order to our broken immigration system is enacting comprehensive immigration reform.”

This week, the Republican and Democratic Parties elected leaders for the 111th Congress. America’s Voice is excited to work with a new President and new Congress to enact common sense immigration reform. Below is a statement from Lynn Tramonte, Policy Director at America’s Voice, on the leadership elections this week and what they mean for the future of immigration politics and policy.

As Barack Obama and John McCain meet to discuss issues they can work on together in 2009, America’s Voice is optimistic that the need for immigration reform will be included on the agenda.

Immigration does matter. Not only is the issue alive in the hearts and minds of American voters, but it was a mobilizing force in this election for Latinos. It motivated unprecedented turnout by this emerging voting bloc, which has been credited for the Democratic sweep across the country.

In the 2008 election cycle, the Republican Party and its candidates spent millions of dollars and ran hundreds of ads attempting to use immigration as a wedge issue in scores of competitive races throughout the country. Like in 2006, when the GOP employed a similar strategy, the 2008 attempt went down in flames and the Party was handed major setbacks at the ballot box.

As post-election analysis from pundits moves from discussing how the Latinos turned out in favor of Democrats at historic levels in 2008 to analyzing why this shift occurred, many have recognized that immigration was the driving factor behind Latino mobilization and their break towards Democratic candidates. “The Republican Party is at a cross-roads, and for reasons of both good policy and good politics, they need to get on the right side of the immigration issue,” said Lynn Tramonte, Policy Director at America’s Voice.