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Letter No. 60: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 1/9/2014, 12:01 p.m.
There is no more next year. This is next year—an election year—and the push must be on to get a ...
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

This is the moment! There is no more next year. This is next year—an election year—and the push must be on to get a deal on immigration reform. No more glorious speeches and a State of the Union ladened with what you hope for. This is the time to make history and finally overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, even if it means reaching a compromise and settling for legal status for the 11 million-plus immigrants who desperately need it, instead of fighting the ideological fight for a path to citizenship.

The reality is, despite what John Boehner says, Republicans know the political voting demographic is changing fast, and this is 2014—not just an election year for many in the House, but two years away from the presidential election.

The Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” a 100-page autopsy report on what went wrong in 2012, found that the Republican Party has a shrinking white population as a rising number of Hispanics are becoming voters. It also found that Republicans have had very limited success in winning over Hispanic voters in presidential elections because Hispanics continue to identify more and more with the Democratic Party.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos voted for President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney 71 percent to 27 percent in 2012. Most importantly, the Center’s analysis finds that Latinos made up 10 percent of the electorate in 2012, as indicated by national exit polls, up from 9 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2004.

The analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center also showed that as a group, non-white voters made up 28 percent of the nation’s electorate, up from 26 percent in 2008. Undoubtedly, that number will increase come 2016, and even this year, especially in states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado—three of the key battleground states where Hispanics made up a growing share of voters as of 2012.

Nationally, there are 24 million Hispanics currently eligible to vote.That number will soar to 40 million by 2030, as the 17 million Latinos under age 18 get older. Every poll of Latinos shows that the issue of immigration continues to be an important issue. In the national exit polls, some 77 percent of Hispanic voters said undocumented immigrants should be offered a chance to apply for legal status. Add in the other immigrant voting bloc—including those from the Caribbean and Africa—and one can see why the GOP should be very scared.

Yet, a recent poll by Latino Decisions, a firm that conducts research on Latino political opinions, reported that 32 percent of Latinos would be more likely to consider voting Republican in the future if comprehensive immigration reform passed. So that leaves the GOP with “decisions, decisions, decisions!” Should they be led continually by bigotry or should they finally make a progressive move to provide solutions to the problem of immigration reform that must be dealt with now, not later?

The answer all lies with Boehner. Hopefully, his son-in-law had a chat with him this past holiday and he’s coming back chilled out even though Ohio is a far way from Colorado. One can only hope, but as you told us in 2008, change has got to come, and this is the year—this is the moment for change we can finally believe in!

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands News Americas Now, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.