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Will Latino Motivation To Rout GOP Be Undermined By Obama Immigration Raids?

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Andres Oppenheimer: GOP Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Alienating Latinos and Threatening Republicans’ Chances

Kerry Eleveld: Home Raids Against Central American Refugees Could Give GOP “An Escape Route by Driving Down Participation” Among Latino & Immigrant Voters

With immigration center stage in the 2016 presidential cycle, one of the most important questions in assessing the 2016 election cycle will be the extent to which Republicans’ embrace of anti-immigrant politics will backfire, motivating infrequent Latino voters to register and add their numbers to the overall growing Latino vote. However, Democrats cannot take Latino, APIA, and immigrant voters’ support for granted. In fact, with the Obama Administration’s home raids against Central American refugees causing panic in the entire immigrant community, there are growing concerns that blurring distinctions between the parties could weaken voter registration and mobilization.

Two new analyses explore the intersection of the immigration debate and Latino voter energy and enthusiasm. Writing in the Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer assesses how anti-immigrant rhetoric emanating from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio is alienating Latino voters and will make it difficult for the Republicans to win back the White House in November.  Kerry Eleveld, writing at Daily Kos, sounds a note of caution for the Democrats, noting that immigration raids could make Latino voter mobilization and enthusiasm for Democratic candidates more difficult. We excerpt both pieces below:

Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald, “GOP Committing Political Suicide — Again”:

“Judging from the anti-immigrant rhetoric from Republican hopefuls in the Iowa caucuses, the Republican Party is marching straight to its third consecutive defeat in the November presidential elections.

The three Republicans who received the most votes in Iowa — Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, in that order — competed to woo extreme-right primary voters by claiming to be the toughest against undocumented immigrants, and promising to build a wall on the border with Mexico. They seemed oblivious to the fact that Republicans lost the most recent elections because they alienated too many Hispanic voters.

The three “amigos” — Cruz, Trump and Rubio — are following the steps of failed Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who famously proposed the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants in 2012. Romney lost the 2012 elections in large part because he got only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to the 71 percent obtained by President Barack Obama.

…Trump took the lead in this immigrant-bashing rhetoric contest, famously saying at the start of his campaign that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

But Cruz, Rubio and other Republican hopefuls are not far behind. Cruz was quick to support Trump’s first comments on Mexican immigrants in June last year, and most recently has tried to outdo Trump by vowing to “build a wall that works” and to limit legal immigration.

Cruz, who like Rubio comes from an immigrant family, said Nov. 14 that he would halt “any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high.”

Of course, supporters of Republican front-runners’ anti-immigration plans argue that they are not “anti-immigration,” but only “anti-illegal immigration,” and that something has to be done to stop the alleged avalanche of undocumented migrants.

But, in politics, perceptions count more than anything else, and the Republican front-runners’ rhetoric comes across as hostile to all Hispanics, not just toward undocumented immigrants.

…Unless they change their tone on immigration and Mexico, they will be energizing more Latinos to turn out on election day and vote — against them.”

Kerry Eleveld in Daily Kos, “The Voter Turnout Story No One Is Talking About But Democrats Should Be”:

“ …what most Americans have underestimated is the extent to which undocumented immigrants now feel they are living in a police state. You don’t open doors for people you don’t know. You don’t go outside if at all possible. And even if you are a legal resident or citizen, you certainly don’t engage politically if anyone in your household is at risk of deportation.

For many Latinos, including those eligible to vote, their energy is now devoted to protecting the people in their charge rather than electing someone president. This isn’t just a hypothetical, it actually played out on the ground in advance of the Iowa caucuses. Though the Spanish-to-English translation of this article is a bit rough, the gist comes through loud and clear. Iowa-based immigration activist Monica Reyes told Univision that, prior to the caucuses, some immigrants stopped opening their doors to canvassers for fear that they might be ICE agents in disguise.

Just stop to think for a second what kind of a chilling effect this could have on GOTV efforts during a general election in which Democrats have a natural and obvious edge with Latino voters.

The Latino voting bloc should indeed be a boon for Democrats in 2016, with Pew recently issuing a report projecting that the number of “eligible” Latino voters will be 40 percent higher come November than it was in 2008.

But “eligible” doesn’t translate into anything if they don’t ever get to the polls. The second part of that Pew report included a look at the challenge of getting the glut of new eligible Latino voters to actually vote.

As the number of Latino eligible voters has reached new highs with each election, so has the number of Latino voters. In 2008, a then-record 9.7 million Latinos voted, rising to 11.2 million in 2012. But one other statistic has also consistently reached new highs—the number of Latinos who do not vote. In 2008, a then-record 9.8 million Latino eligible voters did not vote. That number rose to 12.1 million in 2012, despite record turnout of Latino voters. [my emphasis in bold]

The polling firm Latino Decisions did an analysis of how the mobilization of those potential Latino voters could have impacted certain congressional, gubernatorial, and presidential races over the last several election cycles. As noted by the yellow highlighted areas, the undermobilization of that bloc has cost Democrats in a number of races.

…So while Latino voters could absolutely help provide Democrats a decisive boost in many of the above states, doing anything to undercut Latino participation could also result in a tragic missed opportunity, especially given the immigrant bashing Republican field.

And right now, this renewed emphasis on deportation in the midst of a critical election year threatens to depress turnout in two ways: those too afraid to open their doors and those who have become disaffected by the record-high number of deportations on President Obama’s watch (even though they have fallen in recent years)

….The Obama administration is wrong on this issue morally, first and foremost—we are deporting many of these Central American women and children to near-certain violence and some to their deaths.

But the administration is also wrong on this politically. 2016 is no time to be reminding Latino voters of the deportation rates that prompted their leaders to dub President Obama the “deporter-in-chief.” Even if that’s a legacy he’s comfortable cementing, it’s not one he should be burdening the Democratic nominee with.

The Republicans have dug their own grave on Latino issues. Let’s not give them an escape route by driving down participation among voters who are essential to 2016.”