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Immigration Reform “Office Hours” Week Ten

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Setting the State for Senate Judiciary Mark-Up: New Poll Shows Republicans Need to Produce Results Not Rhetoric; CAP Analyzes the Numbers Behind the Senate Bill

Today, America’s Voice Education Fund and other political and policy experts held the tenth in a series of weekly “Office Hours” press briefings.  Each week, a different and diverse group of speakers from a range of backgrounds shares the latest information on the players, politics, legislation and developments as the debate in Congress moves forward, providing ample time for reporters to ask about a range of issues.

Moderated by Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director at America’s Voice Education Fund, today’s call featured, Matt Barreto, Associate Professor of Political Science and the University of Washington and Principal at Latino Decisions; and Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP).

With the mark-up of the Senate bipartisan immigration bill slated to start in the coming week, Matt Barreto discussed the results of a new Latino voter poll, which, according to a Latino Decisions blog post, finds that it’s not enough for some Republicans to support immigration reform—they have to outflank their Republican colleagues leading the charge against it.  When respondents were asked “Even though some Republicans are trying to help pass immigration reform, if other Republicans work to defeat the bill, how will this make you feel about the Republican Party nationally?” Eighteen percent of Latino eligible voters said they would look more favorably upon the Republican Party in this scenario, but more than double that number (41%) said this would give them a more negative view of the GOP.  Thirty-nine percent said their image of the Republican Party would not change.  This new data follows a February Latino Decisions poll, which asked Latino voters–in a couple of different ways–how their voting behavior would change if the Republican Party took a lead role in supporting common sense immigration reform.  As these results showed, 44% of Latino voters say they would be more likely to vote for a Republican if the Party takes a leadership role in passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  This includes 43% of Latinos who voted for Obama in 2012, and 49% of Latinos who identify as Independents.

Said Matt Barreto about the latest poll results, “The GOP gets no political boost for bipartisan effort on the bill if Republicans sabotage it. In fact, they lose support — 41% of Latino voters will be even less favorable to the Republican Party. Immigration is a mobilizing issue for the Latino electorate and the GOP is fully aware of this point. Over the last six months, party leaders and elected officials repeatedly said the GOP needs to a better job with Latino voters in terms of both tone and immigration policy. Now is their big chance to take action on those plans.”

In addition, Marshall Fitz of CAP gave an update on where the policy debate stands in both chambers and discussed the results of a new CAP study, which compares current and estimated future legal immigration numbers based on the Senate’s bipartisan bill.

“As in the past, some opponents are now claiming that the Senate bill amounts to a free for all where we are swinging the gates to the country wide open. That claim is unequivocally false. Instead, what this bill does is replace the current chaotic system characterized by large-scale undocumented immigration with a safe, legal, and orderly process. And it does so by actually reducing the overall number of people who will enter the country each year by more than 150,000,” said Fitz.  “No one disputes the substantive need to reform our immigration system. That is why opponents of immigration reform almost never challenge the need to fix the system. Instead, they try to drive sensational arguments about the impacts of the reforms being proposed” he continued.

Said Lynn Tramonte, “Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to start to marking up this bipartisan immigration bill that is a good piece of legislation and a great starting point.  It is a true compromise, and presents a real opportunity to get something done this year.  But despite 83% of Americans supporting immigration reform with a path citizenship, there are still Republicans who are trying to pick this bill apart and keep it from passing.  The polling is clear: Republicans have much to gain from passing immigration reform, but only if they show leadership and outflank the Senator Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) of the world who seem bent on ensuring the GOP evolves into a regional party in the not-so-distant future.”


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

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