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Immigration: Not Under-the-Radar to Latino Voters

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‘Threshold Issue’ Key to Energized Latino Vote, Could Be Decisive in Battleground States   

Washington, DC – Despite its conspicuous absence during the presidential debate season thus far, the issue of immigration remains one of the most significant issues responsible for mobilizing and energizing the growing Latino vote.

A new poll from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund finds “tremendous enthusiasm” among Latino voters in the key battleground states of CO, FL, NM, and NV, as nearly 90% of Latino voters say they will vote on November 4th. These new voters will likely play a decisive role on Election Day – for example, the 60,000 new Latino voters in Nevada since 2004 could prove critical in a state decided by 20,000 votes in 2004. NALEO also found that, like all Americans, the economic crisis and concerns over healthcare are especially salient to the Latino electorate. However, immigration remains a priority issue that is a motivating Latinos to turn out in record numbers.

As Mickey Ibarra, Chairman of the Latino Leaders Network, recently stated, “it is Congress’ failure to pass a sweeping immigration reform package last year that may ultimately drive the Latino vote.” Similarly, Cecilia Muñoz, Senior Vice President at the National Council of La Raza, recently called immigration a “threshold issue” for Latinos, saying that it “tends to determine who the good guys are and the bad guys are.” As a result of this engagement, voter registrations amongst immigrants and Latinos are growing significantly, as the Washington Post recently reported. Latino and immigrant political engagement isn’t just a spontaneous process – groups such as the We Are America Alliance are registering and mobilizing over 1 million new voters and the Latino vote is expected to grow from 7.6 million in 2004 to 9.2 million this election cycle.

“During this election season, the role of immigration in energizing the Latino vote remains the greatest story never told.  While most pundits don’t get it, the presidential campaigns do.  They understand that Latino voters – especially Spanish-dominant Latino voters – may well prove decisive in states such as Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada.  This is why both campaigns are engaged in a high-volume, high-dollar Spanish language ad war  over who stands more clearly in favor of comprehensive immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “In this election, immigration reform is the sleeper issue that is helping to wake the sleeping giant,” he added. 

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