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Senators Reid & Durbin Pledge Action on Immigration Reform

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Latino Base Disillusioned by Lack of Progress on Issue Key to November Turnout

Washington, DC – Thousands of people gathered at rallies across the country to call for comprehensive immigration reform and got vocal backing from the top two Democrats in the Senate this weekend.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) reiterated their support for comprehensive immigration reform and called for legislative action this year.  The pledges of support come at a time when Latino voter enthusiasm about the November mid-term elections is very low, and point to the role the issue plays in galvanizing Latino voters.

Speaking to a crowd of 10,000 in Las Vegas, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed to take up immigration reform in 2010, saying, “We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now…We need to do this this year.” 

At a rally in Chicago, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) pledged to move on immigration reform and to try to recruit Senate Republicans to support reform legislation.  He compared this effort to the dedication that helped pass healthcare legislation and called for “that same determination and that same commitment to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Senator Reid and Senator Durbin have hit on a winning strategy—comprehensive immigration reform is both smart policy and smart politics for the Democratic Party.  Advancing immigration reform this year would show the American people that Democrats are in charge and up to the challenge, and mobilize Latino voters who want campaign promises to be acted on.  It would also force Republicans to decide whether to reopen diplomatic relations with the fastest-growing group of new voters in the country, or allow the Party to be defined by its anti-immigrant strain.”

The events in Las Vegas and Chicago were accompanied by similar rallies in Brooklyn, El Paso, Philadelphia, Providence, and Seattle and continued the momentum generated by the massive “March for America” in Washington, DC on March 21st, which featured over 200,000 marchers who gathered to support immigration reform.  As an article in Sunday’s Washington Post and recent Latino polling from Bendixen & Amandi and Latino Decisions highlighted, the Latino electorate is showing signs of disillusionment that will impact the 2010 mid-term elections unless immigration reform is addressed.  According to Latino Decisions, “there will have to be a genuine attempt on the part of the administration and Democrats in Congress to act on immigration” in order to mobilize the Latino vote for the 2010 cycle.  Analysis by America’s Voice shows that depressed Latino turnout could impact more than forty battleground races across the nation.    

It is not just experts on Latino voting patterns that are urging action on comprehensive immigration reform.  This week, Cokie Roberts made the same point on both NPR and ABC News/This Week, and Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg recommended action at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in late March. 

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