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Press Call: Latino Voters & Why Alabama Will Have an Outsize Impact on the November Elections

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On a pre-primary press call, the day before the contentious Alabama GOP primary, immigrant reform experts and leaders from religious and immigrant youth communities shed light on the devastating toll that Alabama’s anti-immigration law (HB 56) has had on Latino families and warned of the role Alabama will play in the national elections this November.

According to a Latin Insights/Fox News Latino Poll, if the election took place today a GOP Presidential candidate would win just 14% of the Latino vote—far short of the 40% minimum that they need to win the White House.  Implementation of the Alabama law is the most prominent example of frontrunner Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” policy in effect.  Spanish language media has covered the law’s ugly effects extensively, and support for this and similar laws is clearly impacting how Latinos see the Republican Party and its candidates.  According to the Latin Insights poll, only 25% of Latinos have a favorable view of the Republican Party, in contrast with 65% who have a favorable impression of the Democrats.

According to Rev. Sam Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said “Any presidential hopeful who attempts to win the Alabama primary by affirming the state’s controversial immigration law simultaneously stands to nationally alienate the Hispanic American electorate.”

Angela M. Kelley, Vice President, Immigration Policy and Advocacy, Center for American Progress Action Fund, explained: “If you look at George Bush, he tried to speak Spanish; he was respectful of the Latino community and talked about the need to fix our broken immigration system. He never talked about mass deportation or about the Latino community the way Romney does. Bush got 44% of the Latino vote and won the White House. John McCain was a big supporter of comprehensive immigration reform who put forth immigration reform legislation and then walked back on his support. Even after that, he tried hard to cozy back to the community and got 31%. I don’t see any of that in Mitt Romney.  He is swimming in the ocean and there is nothing that is going to save him.”

Erika Andiola, Government Relations Director, DRM Capitol Group talked about how immigrant youth have traveled around the country, demanding that Mitt Romney answer for his anti-immigrant, anti-Latino positions: “Undocumented youth in Alabama and across the country are standing up for their communities. We cannot vote, but we know our communities can vote, and they will vote for candidates who do not talk like Mitt Romney, who will respect our contributions and our desire to stay in the country we love.” 

Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, questioned why Romney and others are allowing anti-immigrant extremists to drive their strategy: Only 3-4% of Republican primary voters list immigration as their top issue, but it is a deeply personal, defining issue to a majority of Latinos.  The common thread between the Arizona and Alabama laws and Mitt Romney’s immigration position is one person: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  He brags about writing those laws and advising Mitt Romney on a national version.  It’s incredible to me that a federal candidate would rather listen to Kris Kobach than the fastest-growing voter group in the country.  Republicans are committing political suicide by pandering to the 3%; if they continue down this road, they will become a regional party and never see the inside of the White House again.”

For a recording of the call, click here

For more information see:

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