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Office Hours: Week in Review

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office hoursAfter a Hot August, Political Experts Assess State of Play on Immigration in House and Stakes for 2014 Elections

Today, in a conference call with reporters, immigration reform leaders and allies discussed the political landscape on immigration reform in the House and what’s at stake for members of both parties this fall. In addition, speakers gave an update on where the 44 GOP House Members highlighted in the Latino Decisions “Latino Influence Districts” analysis stand on a path to citizenship; and discussed a new report from Rob Paral and the Immigration Policy Center that analyzes how new immigrant, Latino and Asian voters will alter the 2014 electorate.

The call was moderated by Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice and featured Cesar Vargas, Director of the DREAM Action Coalition and Rob Paral, Principal of Rob Paral and Associates and fellow with the American Immigration Council.

This week Rob Paral–Principal of Rob Paral and Associates and fellow with the American Immigration Council—released a new report illustrating the fact that over 1/3 of newly eligible voters in 2014 will be of Latino, Asian, or immigrant origin.  “There are 171 congressional districts where naturalized citizens and young Asians and Latinos will comprise at least a third of newly eligible voters in 2014. This represents 39 percent of all districts. Fifty-five of the 171 districts are currently represented by a Republican. Districts where naturalized citizens and young Asian and Latino new voters are more than half of the new voters are overwhelmingly Democratic (79 Democrats to 21 Republicans). However, the amount of districts where these groups represent between 33 percent and 50 percent of new potential voters are roughly split between the two parties, with 37 districts represented by Democrats and 34 represented by Republicans.”

For the GOP, the top ten are: CA-21 (Valadao), FL-27 (Ros-Lehtinen), FL-25 (Diaz-Balart), CA-39 (Royce), CA-31 (Miller), NM-02 (Pearce), CA-22 (Nunes), TX-27 (Farenthold), CA-10 (Denham) and CA-48 (Rohrabacher)

According to Paral, “Post election analysis in 2012 often discussed how Asians and Latinos are a growing portion of the overall vote.  Such analysis does not capture how important those groups are among persons eligible to vote for the first time in 2014.  Focusing on these newest eligible voters shows a dramatic, long term change taking place in the electorate.”   Although young voters have lower registration and voting rates, these young voters have an incentive to vote in 2014 because in many cases immigration reform affects their families directly.”

America’s Voice released a new report analyzing where 44 Republican Members in “Latino Influence Districts” stand on immigration reform.  These are GOP members identified by the political scientists at Latino Decisions for having potential competitive races in 2014 AND influential Latino populations.

Roughly one-third of GOPers in these Latino Influence Districts are now publicly supportive of a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants; another third are on record for something more than deportation but less than full citizenship for everyone; and another third are silent or supportive of Draconian politics.

As Lynn Tramonte of America’s Voice put it: “Those who already support a path to citizenship are on the same side of the issue as Latino voters and other Americans, but they need to take action.  Latino Decisions polling from July 2013 shows that support on policies is not enough–actions are what matter.  For those on the fence, it’s time to think back to the reason they ran for Congress in the first place—was it to get elected year after year, or to do big things? If the answer is both, then the choice is clear. Come out of hiding on immigration reform, support a reasonable path to citizenship, and make sure the House votes on it this year.”

Cesar Vargas, Director of the DREAM Action Coalition said, “As DREAMers, we’ve seen the actual shift amongst Latino voters before our eyes in our communities. Our teams have been confronting House Republicans in districts across the country, sharing how very personal the immigration issue is to our community and how deeply it impacts our families. House Republicans have a last chance to lead on immigration. Advocating for immigration reform is not enough, we need them to actually take legislation to the floor. Should they fail to bring legislation for a vote, DREAMers will direct our energy to our communities, especially Latino voters around the country, and remind them that the Republican Party killed immigration reform. DREAMers can get close to Latino voters in ways that no campaign can and if our actions don’t incentivize them, then elections will. We’ll be sure to continue spreading our message with voters on the ground until we pass the legislation our country so desperately needs.”

Tramonte concluded: “The August recess has been a resounding success for the pro-reform side.  The passion, the momentum and the stamina is clearly on the side of the immigration supporters fighting for their families and communities, and the proof is in the growing number of House Republicans that have come out for citizenship over the last few weeks.  After the August recess, one thing is clear: we now have the votes to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship in the House. If House Republican leaders are serious about getting reform done, then they’ll stop making excuses, schedule a vote on citizenship, pass it on a bipartisan basis and then go to conference with the Senate.  There’s time to do it, they just need the will.”

For a recording of today’s call, click here.

To keep tabs on Republican House Members who have come out for a path to citizenship, follow the America’s Voice blog here.  To view an update on where the 44 GOP Members in Latino Influence Districts stand, click here.  For more on Latino voter polling, see the Latino Decisions web site here.