It has been nearly one year since the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill—the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act—and since then, the House of Representatives has done little to move the process of reform forward in any meaningful way. With the November 2014 congressional and 2016 presidential elections just around the corner, the window of opportunity for the current House to pass immigration reform is closing quickly. As House Republican leaders consider whether they will take action on reform this congressional session, they should remember that the time to pass reform is not the only thing that is coming to an end; the window of opportunity to gain support among Latino voters for the upcoming elections is also quickly closing.
In the last two election cycles, Latino voters have been vital to Democrats’ victories in both the congressional and presidential races. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), for example, won 90 percent of the Latino vote in 2010, allowing him to narrowly fend off his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle. Similarly, Latino voters helped secure President Barack Obama’s 2012 win in key states such as Colorado and Virginia, with 71 percent of Latinos supporting him nationally. In the days following the 2012 presidential election, a stunning array of conservative pundits and lawmakers, including Bill O’Reilly, asserted that the Republican Party must gain the support of Latino voters if it wished to be a viable party in future elections. They were correct: The influence of Latinos is only increasing as they become a larger share of the U.S. electorate.
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