Two New York Times stories from this past weekend highlight the growing anger and disillusionment directed at both political parties, coming from core constituencies. The Republicans come in for special condemnation from agricultural producers for blocking immigration reform legislation. Meanwhile, President Obama’s record deportations are causing frustration and anger in the Latino community. The stories offer sobering political reminders for both parties about consequences of the immigration status quo.
In a New York Times story titled, “California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience,” Jennifer Medina writes of the acute frustration expressed by agricultural leaders in California’s Central Valley over Republican obstruction on immigration reform:
Perhaps nowhere else captures the contradictions and complications of immigration policy better than California’s Central Valley, where nearly all farmworkers are immigrants, roughly half of them living here illegally, according to estimates from agricultural economists at the University of California, Davis. That reality is shaping the views of agriculture business owners here, like Mr. Herrin, who cannot recall ever voting for a Democrat. In dozens of interviews, farmers and owners of related businesses said that even the current system of tacitly using illegal labor was failing to sustain them. A work force that arrived in the 1990s is aging out of heavy labor, Americans do not want the jobs, and tightened security at the border is discouraging new immigrants from arriving, they say, leaving them to struggle amid the paralysis on immigration policy. No other region may be as eager to keep immigration legislation alive…
…After the 2012 presidential election, as Republicans spoke enthusiastically about the need to court Latinos, Mr. Nassif was optimistic that immigration would become a top priority. But exasperation has replaced his confidence in recent months, and he said his group [The Western Growers Association] could withhold hundreds of thousands of dollars in congressional races in which it has usually supported Republicans.
“I can tell you if the Republicans don’t put something forward on immigration, there is going to be a very loud hue and cry from us in agriculture,” Mr. Nassif said.”‘We are a tremendously important part of the party, and they should not want to lose us.”
In a New York Times piece titled, “Hopes Frustrated, Many Latinos Reject the Ballot Box Altogether,” Jackie Calmes reports that Colorado Latino voters’ anger and disillusionment at both parties could preview lower levels of Latino voter turnout – a potentially ominous development for Democrats:
Latinos mainly blame Republicans, who control the House and have buried the Senate bill, but they also have soured on Mr. Obama. The federal government has so aggressively enforced existing immigration laws that one national Hispanic leader recently nicknamed the president ‘deporter in chief’ for allowing nearly two million people to be deported…
… Democrats indeed are worried. While the growing Latino electorate is a force in presidential elections, and one expected to give Democrats an edge for years unless Republicans shed an anti-immigrant image, Latinos are relative bit players in this midterm election year. Their turnout typically drops in midterm years; nationally and in Colorado, about half of registered Latinos voted in 2008 and 2012, but less than a third did in the 2010 midterm elections and many Democrats lost. This fall, with many Latinos caught between hostility toward Republicans and disappointment with Mr. Obama, participation could dip further…
… A depressed vote threatens Democrats in a number of races, notably in Colorado, where Latinos were 14 percent of the state’s 2012 electorate and about 70 percent voted for Democrats. Their Senate majority at risk, Democrats are hustling to help Senator Mark Udall now that a formidable Republican, Representative Cory Gardner, has challenged him. They also hope to snatch the House district, including Aurora, from Representative Mike Coffman, a Republican. His Democratic rival is Andrew Romanoff, a former State House speaker.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said:
The status quo is unacceptable and the American people want their leaders to lead. If House Republicans don’t step up to pass immigration reform in the next three months, President Obama will have to step in to take action through executive action. While a permanent solution through legislation is the best option, executive action is far better than inaction.