This week, new developments in states where immigration policy and politics are most salient reinforce the importance of the issue on Election Day and the need for common sense immigration reform. A broad coalition of voices in the key battleground states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico highlighted the failures of our current approach to immigration policy, previewed the power of the Latino vote and the immigration issue on November 4th, and called for immigration reform legislation to fix our broken system.
In Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter voiced support for comprehensive reform on the Capitol steps and highlighted the urgency of the effort, saying “Immigration has to be something that the federal government tackles in, I would think, the first year of the new administration.” Gov. Ritter’s call for comprehensive reform was echoed by statewide business leaders, as well as a coalition of interfaith leaders from Colorado, who signed a pledge to “publicly reject the politics of division and isolation that fan anger and hate” and to “work toward just, workable and humane immigration reform.”
In Arizona, the statewide Chamber of Commerce joined other political and civic leaders to call for comprehensive reform legislation. Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, said “lawmakers have failed in passing immigration legislation and they need to “finish the job” to find a legal way to bring needed workers into the U.S.” Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who has been an outspoken critic of the short-sighted and anti-immigrant crackdown tactics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, joined the AZ Chamber at the Wednesday press event to highlight the need for real reform.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce also announced their contributions and support for a new series of 60-second television ads that highlight the need to pass immigration reform legislation to “finish what we started” and the relationship between immigration and a strong economy. The ads, organized by the San Antonio-based MATT.org (Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together), will air in the key markets of Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix through Election Day, reflect a broad coalition of support in each of the four states, and highlight the link between sensible immigration policy and the upcoming election.
The relationship between immigration reform and the political process was also underscored this week by the news of unprecedented mobilization efforts to register and engage the Latino vote in key battleground states. The Wall Street Journal highlighted the efforts of the NALEO Educational Fund to drive a million new Latino voters to the polls. The “Ya es Hora! Ve y Vota!” (Now is the time! Go vote!) campaign, supported by State Farm, Univision, and the largest Spanish-language publisher in the U.S., ImpreMedia LLC, could “create a surge of Latino voters, especially in several swing states” and, according to new polling figures, “would likely benefit Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.” A similar mobilization effort by the We Are America Alliance (WAAA) will spend $10 million in 13 key electoral states with a high number of immigrant and Latino voters.
“When the political pundits begin to assess what transpired in the 2008 elections, the role of immigration will be one of the most important explanations,” said Paco Fabián, Communications Director at America’s Voice. “All those in favor of sensible immigration reform will look to the newly-elected to recognize the role immigration played in the election and seek sensible and long-overdue immigration policy reform.”