After a triumphant midterm election for the Republican Party, national Latino and immigration reform advocates got back to the message they’ve been pushing for the last two years: calling on President Obama for immediate immigration reform.
“For most immigrant families struggling to make ends meet, who are living in fear of having their family ripped apart…the elections won’t change much,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement. “It is time for President Obama to step up to the plate and lead boldly by using his authority to restore some sanity to our dysfunctional immigration system.”
Latino voters polled by Latino Decisions (PDF) put immigration at the top of their personal policy agendas. According to a Pew Research Center poll, Latinos ranked the issue fourth–after education, the economy and healthcare. Latinos backed Democrats by wide but smaller margins than they did in prior elections. For example, according to Latino Decisions, in the closely watched Colorado Senate race, 71 percent of Latinos backed Democratic candidate Mark Udall yesterday. However, 87 percent of Colorado Latinos voted for President Obama in 2012.
“After last night, Democrats should re-learn the lesson that leaning into immigration is a winner — especially in the runup to the 2016 election where the changing American electorate is likely to show up in full force,” Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America’s Voice, said in a statement. Sharry has partnered with Latino Decisions to release its polling data. “Moreover, executive action is the right thing to do,” Sharry added.
At a press conference in Chicago today, Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez was far more pointed when, with an eye toward 2016, he told his party: “They’re going to be a fight for the heart and soul of the Latino community…and if you’re not doing it don’t expect the resounding support you’ve received in the past.”