The Gamble: Delaying Immigration Reform

This article from the magazine Hispanic Business considers the possibility of backlash for Republicans and Democrats who failed to pass an immigration reform bill this fall. The article cites a Time Magazine poll that identified 68 % of Americans believe that illegal immigration into the United States is a “very serious” problem. Similarly a Pew Hispanic Center poll identified nearly 50 percent of their respondents said that undocumented immigrants threaten traditional American customs and values and are a “burden on the country.” In addition, the article notes that many people are alarmed that nearly 12 million unauthorized immigrants now live in the United States, and that their numbers are increasing by nearly 1 million per year, which is five times as many undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1980s.

Republicans made a gamble in the last congressional session that the voters taking the hardest line on immigration are already Republican. Hard line tactics like the border fence and increase border security, the conventional wisdom goes, may not win votes, but it is likely to keep Republicans faithful and will encourage them to get to the polls.

Ironically, neither party seems to be paying much attention to is the Hispanics vote, estimated at 6% of the total U.S. voting population. This group of voters may not have a strong affiliation with either party. But the Republican hardball approach, coupled with the fact that so many conservative pundits are not shy about expressing their nativist positions, may turn Hispanic voters away from the GOP permanently.

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