Washington, D.C. — A new issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress explores how immigration relates to changing demographics, especially the rapid growth of the Latino population and their power as voters.
In the wake of the overwhelming Latino and Asian American support for President Barack Obama in the November 2012 election—support that was critical to his re-election—the political winds on immigration have shifted significantly to favor immigration reform with a road map to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country. A full 71 percent of Latino voters and 73 percent of Asian American voters supported the president in the election, and poll after poll illustrates that these groups strongly opposed the “self-deportation” policies of Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and instead supported President Obama’s immigration-reform efforts. Changing demographics, especially the rapid growth of the Latino population and their power as voters, ensured that key swing states such as Florida, Colorado, and Nevada voted for the president.
In the weeks after the election, prominent conservatives “evolved” on the issue of immigration reform, including conservative pundit Sean Hannity, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John McCain (R-AZ), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) summed up the Republican predicament best when he told the Washington Ideas Forum on November 15 that, “It’s really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care, if they think you want to deport their grandmother.”
As we move into the congressional debate on immigration reform, we should remember that the political shifts that have opened a space for reform—grounded in demographic changes—were not a phenomenon that debuted in 2012. These changes began in the mid-1990s, when anti-immigrant politics in California helped turn the state reliably blue.
And as our nation moves toward a point where by 2043 we will have no clear racial or ethnic majority, 11 other states such as Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and even Georgia are also reaching demographic tipping points. Whether or not these states turn blue in the future has a lot to do with how politicians in both parties act and what they talk about on the subject of immigration reform.
In this issue brief we review the past, present, and future of immigration politics, as well as the changing demographics in key states.
Read the brief: “Immigration Is Changing the Political Landscape in Key States” by Philip E. Wolgin and Ann Garcia
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