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Immigration Reform Must Pass for 2016 GOP Latino Vote

by Brian Iniguez, published

It's no secret that a significant factor of President Obama's 2012 reelection was the disparaging ratio of Latino votes in his favor, with Mitt Romney only receiving 27% of the Latino vote. This 5.8 million voter difference is an electoral hump the Republican Party must smooth out if there is to be any competition in 2016.

Think Progress reported the overwhelming support of probable Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton among the Latino base.



These numbers are a red flag for the GOP. With precedent-setting immigration reform up for debate in the House, Republicans' relationship with the Latino electorate could hang in the balance. This is especially the case in California, a state home to more than 14 million Latinos, 38% of its total population.

President/CEO of GROW Elect Ruben Barrales views this lacking support as a result of the dialogue involving his party's relationship with Latinos:

"I think the problem relates to some of the rhetoric associated with Republicans that is not seen as friendly to the Latino or the immigrant community... This is a nonpartisan issue. Either party, If you want to receive more support from the Latino community, you need to address issues Latinos that care about, relevant issues in a way that  helps improve people's quality of life."

Mr. Barrales' GROW Elect Project seeks to increase Latino representation and support within the Republican party, a goal with an ambition not lost on him.

"This is a long road. What I want to do is identify young talent in the latino community. Men and women who are interested in public service and want to work on behalf of their communities, and I want to help support them and identify them in their efforts to seek public office."

GROW Elect has helped 33 campaigns to victory so far. However, Barrales does not limit its outreach by partisan boundaries, even in uncertain circumstances.

"In terms of voters, we encourage our candidates to reach out to all voters..." "We support Latino candidates who happen to be republican but obviously, many of them run in areas that are predominantly democrat, or have a large decline in independent voter constituency. It's important to focus on issues that cross party lines and then address concerns people have, regardless of party affiliation."

This nonpartisan approach to partisan issues may, ironically, be spurring a new dialogue within the GOP, and may even influence the votes surrounding immigration. When asked about the odds of the House passing the precedent-setting bill, Barrales was pragmatic in his response.

"What's most important is getting a good policy that fixes the broken immigration system. That's what we want to get. There are political ramifications associated with it. I would like to see Republicans and Democrats get it right when they're talking about immigration, understanding the important contribution immigration makes for the U.S."

Little by little, PACS such as GROW Elect can influence the amount of Latino representation in Congress as the immigration debate is framed towards a more inclusive approach.

Debate in the House about the bill continues, with Speaker Boehner being the central figure in the final decision, despite showing a stancher stance on immigration in recent years. A pass in the House would make citizenship legally available to over 2 million immigrants.

Support for the bill would undoubtedly spur a newfound support for the Republican party among the Latino electorate, making the 2016 election more competitive than it is projected to be.


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