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Hispanic vote may still be up for grabs, despite Democratic support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Luis Gutierrez, the Illinois congressman leading the push for comprehensive immigration reform, still believes that a bill of some sort will pass before the November midterms.  “Immigration reform is still possible this year...The American people demand law and order and secure borders and comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to get there,” he said in a written statement

He added that President Obama will make it incumbent upon Congress to pass a bill soon.  He also touted that passing his comprehensive immigration reform bill will be a bipartisan effort this year, even if it might be 17 votes short at the moment.  

     “Democrats and Republicans agree on 80% of a reform package: border security, legal immigration, a secure worker verification system, and deportation for serious, violent criminals.  All of those elements are in my bill, H.R. 4321, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act,” he said. 

For Republicans that don’t support the current immigration reform bill, Gutierrez accused them of “holding out for a fantasy that more than ten million immigrants will leave on their own or be driven out of the country.”  Is, however, an immigration reform bill also a fantasy?  Is retaining a Democratic majority also merely a fantasy? 

Ultimately, Democrats want to use the immigration issue to reduce the effects of what will likely be a rough November.  But even this effort to pin the GOP against the wall on immigration has not yet come to fruition.  Polls show that Republicans in states like California and Nevada aren’t necessarily suffering because of their tough illegal immigration stances. 

The Washington Independent offered some interesting analysis as to why Republicans haven’t suffered more: 

     “Latino voters haven’t suddenly taken a liking to the Arizona law — most polls show that 70 percent oppose it — but contrary to the expectations of Democrats, their loyalty this November is still very much up for grabs. The reason, according to experts keeping close tabs on the races, is straightforward: Republicans have simply worked harder to court the Hispanic vote in the wake of the Arizona law.” 

This has certainly played itself out in California where both Whitman and Fiorina have gone to extra lengths to reach for the Hispanic vote.  Also worth keeping in mind is the fact that primary Republican voters in California defeated any notion that they are anti-immigrant in their snubbing of illegal immigrant crusader Steve Poizner.  Voters, while believing that illegal immigration is a problem, rejected Poizner’s making the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. 

Based on current Republican rhetoric, it will be interesting to see which direction Hispanics swing.

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