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Immigration Reform “Office Hours”

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Pollsters and Strategists Discuss Political Costs of Immigration Delay for GOP

With House Republican leadership refusing to schedule a vote on immigration reform in the House, the Party’s image among Latinos, Asians, and immigrants remains entrenched while the number of these voters keeps growing.  And though the House GOP seems content to put off a vote for now, they fail to realize that it will only get harder in 2015 and entering 2016 with the issue hanging out there is a dangerous political gamble for the GOP.

On today’s “Office Hours” press call, Latino pollsters and Democratic strategists discussed both the opportunities and risks for both parties heading into 2014 and 2016.

Said Matt Barreto, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Washington and Co-Founder of Latino Decisions:

The challenge for Republicans is that they must have something real to deliver to Latino voters come 2014 and 2016, and so far they have nothing. Latinos are watching the immigration debates in Congress very closely and Boehner raised all expectations by releasing their ‘principles’.  If they block reform now, they will be sealing their fate as the anti-immigrant, ‘self-deportation’ party which will have significant consequences in 2014 and 2016.

Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, has done extensive polling on immigration over the years and has advised many Democratic candidates on many races where immigration has been an issue.  She said on today’s call:

Recent polling shows that 8 in 10 voters want to see Congress take action on immigration reform.  Those who continue to block reform are ignoring the American people. This will damage Republican campaigns across the country and in key swing states.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said:

The main reason that Republicans decided to put immigration reform on the table this Congress was because of the 2012 elections.  Now some argue that they can punt on reform this year and take it up in 2015.  But that is foolhardy.  In 2015 the presidential primary season begins, and much like in 2012, the candidates will face pressure to tack right.  Meanwhile, President Obama will have to step in and freeze the situation for most undocumented immigrants, and Democrats will be content to wait until after 2016 to pass reform without the need for much input from Republicans.  The bottom line is that if Republicans don’t pass a bill this year, they’re putting the Party’s political future at risk.  No wonder more and more conservative voices are starting to weigh in and say ‘if you don’t do it now, we’re headed for real trouble.

For recordings and resources from prior Office Hours calls, click here.