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GOP Outreach Plan to Latino Voters: Deport Loved Ones, U.S. Agriculture Industry

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New Polling of Latinos Underscores Dangers to Republicans of Pursuing Same Old Mass Deportation Policies

Washington – New polling from Latino Decisions and Impremedia shows that immigration continues to surge in importance to Latino voters.  In a January-February 2010 survey of 500 registered Latino voters, 47% chose immigration as their top issue, while 34% selected either jobs or the economy (21% for jobs and 13% for the economy).  This is up from November 2010, when 37% of Latino voters chose immigration as their top issue, compared to 48% identifying jobs or the economy (31% for jobs and 17% for the economy).

With the backdrop of two House immigration hearings on the Republicans’ plan to expel 11 million undocumented workers and their families from the country, the poll serves as a stark reminder to the GOP: your plan to deport the loved ones of Latino voters and kill the U.S. agriculture industry is a dangerous political strategy.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Republicans in Congress seem hell-bent on pursuing a mass deportation strategy that would make the existing immigration system worse, export the U.S. agricultural industry, push even more jobs into the underground economy, and further alienate their party from the fastest-growing group of new voters: Latinos.  After the crucial role that immigration and Latino voters played in keeping the Senate in Democratic hands last cycle, you’d think Republicans would finally see the writing on the wall.  At the very least, they should read this poll and realize they need to change strategy if they want to compete for Latino voters in 2012 and beyond.”  

When asked whether the issue of immigration was a factor in their decision to vote and who to vote for in the November poll, 60% of Latinos said it was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues.  Similarly, when asked whether anti-immigrant or anti-Latino sentiment during the 2010 election season influenced their decision to vote, and who to vote for, 53% of respondents said it was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues.  Latino voters supported Democrats in a big way in competitive 2010 Senate races, voting for Barbara Boxer over Carly Fiorina by a 86% – 14% margin in California; for Michael Bennet over Ken Buck in Colorado 81% – 19%; and for Harry Reid over Sharron Angle in Nevada by a 90% – 8% margin.  Immigration played a key role in influencing such a dramatic split in these and other races.

Not only is the GOP immigration plan hurting the Party’s chances with Latino voters, but it’s a direct assault on our nation’s agriculture industry.  As Craig Regelbrugge, Vice President of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, said yesterday, “”Simply put, any E-Verify expansion that comes without meaningful immigration reform would be disastrous for the American agricultural economy.  It will leave the United States importing food and exporting jobs…Every lowly, backbreaking farm-working job sustains three jobs in the non-farm economy.  What Congress needs to know is we have 1.6 million dedicated farmworkers, and if they go away, we will lose several million American jobs upstream and downstream. We happen to think that is too high a price.”

“Where are the adults in the GOP who realize that attacking the U.S. agriculture industry and Latino voters on a weekly basis is not only bad for the Party, but bad for the country?  It’s time for those leaders to step up, take the reins from Lamar Smith and company, and steer the Party toward a more responsible approach to immigration reform,” Sharry concluded.

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.