New Census figures for California show growing clout of Latino voters
Washington – New Census figures for California show the dominant and growing role Latino voters are playing in politics in the Golden State. National Journal summarized the findings: “The state’s Hispanic population grew by more than a quarter in the last decade, and Latinos now make up 38 percent of the state, which nearly surpasses non-Hispanic whites, who make up 40 percent of the population. Further, 51 percent of Californians younger than 18 are Latino. The political and policy ramifications of the rapid demographic shift in the nation’s largest state are huge.”
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz noted, “The rapid expansion in California’s Hispanic population has transformed the state’s political balance, putting Republicans at a disadvantage in statewide elections.” Dan Schnur, a major California pundit and Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California said, “The 2010 election is a very accurate foreshadowing of the impact of the Latino vote in statewide elections, unless Republicans figure out a different way to deal with this.” And Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), summarized what’s at stake for Republicans when it comes to immigration policy and demographic changes, saying, “From a political perspective, any party that wants to be a majority party in the future is going to have to have a significant share of that population.”
But U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA/24) thinks he knows better. As the Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, Rep. Gallegly is one of the “Three Amigos” guiding the Republican Party’s immigration strategy in Washington, along with Texas Rep. Lamar Smith and Iowa Rep. Steve King. Their goal is to drive undocumented immigrants out of the country. To this end, Gallegly has spearheaded a series of immigration hearings in recent weeks. His most recent hearing attempted to drive a wedge between minority native-born workers and immigrant workers, leading to the following headline in Gallegly’s hometown paper: “Immigration Hearing Turns into Racial Battle.” This Thursday, Gallegly will host a panel that seeks to define all foreign-born workers as bad for America. Amazingly, he wrongly asserts that this hard line approach is actually embraced by Latino voters, saying recently that: “Republican support is growing among Hispanic voters because Republicans agree with U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent that illegal immigration hurts all Americans.”
In Ventura County, in Gallegly’s own congressional district, “the Latino population continued to grow over the last decade, increasing from 33 percent of all residents in 2000 to 40 percent in 2010,” according to the Ventura County Star. Despite this reality, Gallegly continues to push for the type of mass deportation policies that are overwhelmingly unpopular with Latino voters, who view immigration from an extremely personal and increasingly political lens. In the 2010 elections, 60% of Latino voters said immigration was either “the most important” or “one of the most important” factors in their voting decision.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Elton Gallegly seems intent on doing to the national GOP what Pete Wilson did for the GOP in California: alienate a key demographic group and sink the Party’s political fortunes for more than a decade. Not only is he leading his Party off a cliff when it comes to viability with Latino voters, but he’s becoming increasingly out of touch with what’s happening in his own backyard. As the most powerful California Republican on immigration policy, he has a unique opportunity to move the country towards a sensible policy direction that is politically beneficial for the GOP. Instead, his radical views put him on the wrong side of history.”
Read America’s Voice Education Fund Report, “The New Constituents: How Latinos Will Shape Congressional Apportionment After the 2010 Census”
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