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Nation's Hispanics in limbo while awaiting leadership on immigration reform

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

The LA Times reports that anti-SB 1070 activists are attempting capitalize on Latino voter anger over Arizona’s immigration law, by working to transform Hispanic sentiment into ballot box dividends for Democrats in the coming election.  “Activists hope that SB 1070, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law in April and is scheduled to take effect July 29, will generate enough angry new Latino reshape this state's hard-line approach to immigration,” the Times writes

Will it work? 

The Times goes on to imply that the new immigration law might just compromise (and even snuff out) the Republican vote with Hispanics in Arizona’s future government.

To support its theory, the Times appeals to fairly recent history regarding California’s effort to make sure illegal aliens do not unlawfully receive benefits.  The Republican-led Proposition 187, by way of remembrance, was a state measure that sought to bar illegal aliens from health care, public education, and other social services. 

What followed in 1994 was not good for Republicans, with the rejected measure becoming a thorn in the side of Republicans reaching across the aisle to court Hispanics.  “More than 1 million California Latinos became citizens after the passage of anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 in 1994, putting the state solidly in the hands of Democrats and pushing immigration crackdowns to the margins,” the Times noted. 

So, could the same consequences happen to Arizona Republicans with the law that targets illegal immigrants in their state? 

Based on what took place in California, there very well might be a slight tilt in the Arizona electorate.  However, it is not likely there will be any major changes in Arizona's Republican leadership as a result of the new immigration law.  After all, the political climates of Arizona and California are starkly different. 

A majority of Arizona citizens support the law. The same result is not likely to be seen in California as the Golden State leans much more solidly liberal than its neighbor. 

At the end of the day, the immigration reform debate is bigger than Arizona’s government.  As is often repeated in modern political discourse, the issue really is a federal one.  The only problem is that the federal government does not seem to be showing leadership on the issue. 

President Obama’s immigration speech last week was reactionary in nature, being a response to those pressuring him to finally address the issue.  If the speech had been a bit more anticipatory and pro-active, perhaps he’d be in a better position with Hispanics at this point. 

While Republicans notoriously might have a hard time reaching Hispanics, the Democrats’ reach for the same voter demographic probably won’t be any easier.  President Obama, more than any of his colleagues in Washington, knows this very well. 

The Washington Examiner cites polls showing that his support from the Hispanic community has dropped in consecutive months.

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