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As Vitter Keeps Pushing Ugly Amendment Targeting Kids, USC Report Highlights Political Consequences for GOP

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American Children of Immigrants Parents Coming of Age, Ready to Vote for their Families

Senator David Vitter continues to push for a vote on his unconstitutional amendment to gut the Constitution’s definition of who is a citizen.  His amendment to a human trafficking bill would deny American citizenship to babies born on U.S. Soil, unless their parents can prove they have the right immigration documents.

Vitter, Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, and leader of the House “Hell No” caucus Steve King have made opposing immigrants the GOP’s number one agenda item in Congress this year.  They’re against DACA, DAPA, prosecutorial discretion, sensible enforcement priorities–and even the Constitution–if it affords any rights to immigrants or their descendants.  They’ve become so obsessed that they’re willing to threaten Department of Homeland Security funding and shred a key component of their beloved Constitution to accomplish these goals.

Meanwhile, Manuel Pastor, Jared Sanchez, and Vanessa Carter with the USC Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration issued a new report that should frighten those members of the Republican Party who hope to remain viable in future elections.  According to the USC report:

  • Nearly 600,000 U.S. citizens of voting age today have parents who are eligible for DAPA.  That number is projected to rise to 1.7 million by 2020.  This means that starting with the 2016 elections, Americans who are intimately related to an immigrant on the verge of getting papers will be showing up at the ballot box.
  • This basic fact can only hurt a Republican Party obsessed with keeping these parents down.  According to the report, “Those who oppose DAPA and the expansion of DACA may want to take into account how those future voters – who will simply age in to become part of the electorate – will feel if their parents remain in an immigration limbo brought about by the recent judicial decision or by Congressional attempts to roll back the President’s executive actions.”
  • These voters’ power is not be limited to national presidential elections.  American children of undocumented immigrants make up a growing proportion of new voters in states like Florida and North Carolina.  In Nevada, 15% of all minor children today have an undocumented parent, and most of these kids are U.S. citizens who will age into voting rights.  This means that attacks on DAPA by Florida Senator Marco Rubio–up for re-election in 2016—and Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt—a national figurehead on this issue—will come back to haunt them in future elections.

“We’ve been saying this for some time, but attacking programs like DACA and DAPA is not a wise political strategy for a Party that needs to rebrand itself with Latino, APIA, and immigrant voters.  When it comes to the politics of immigration it’s not just about policy, it’s personal.  Candidates who oppose immigrants should not be surprised when their American children show up to vote, and punish politicians for attacking their parents,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice.

In addition, the report discusses the economic and moral benefits for children and society when DAPA and expanded DACA are finally implemented.

Said Tramonte, “Providing the ability for parents to live without fear, work legally, and bargain for better wages gives them the tools they need to move up the economic ladder and reduces the number of children living in poverty.  Ending the constant fear of a parent’s deportation lessens a child’s stress and lets him focus on learning and being a kid.  These are good things for all concerned: the American children and families at the heart of this debate, as well as the broader society.

“Instead of heeding these lessons, Republicans are continuing to do everything possible to keep American children and families down.  Without a doubt, voters will remember who stood with them and who stood against them when it’s time to fill out that ballot.”