In Wake of Election, Calls for Immigration Reform Grow Louder from Both Parties
November 15 2012
On November 6, Latino voters played a crucial role in the 2012 presidential election, coming out in unprecedented numbers in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada to propel President Barack Obama to victory. Many Latinos voted because they care about the state of our economy and the quality of our education and health care systems, among other issues. But the overwhelming support of a second term for Obama is a message from Latinos that they urgently want a federal solution to fix our broken immigration system, and they will back candidates who have committed to pushing this legislation forward.
Recognizing that many of their defeats by thin margins could have been reversed through stronger Latino outreach, Republicans are now questioning the harsh posturing that led to divisive, draconian anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and other states across the country. Conservative leaders—including Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, pundit Sean Hannity, and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour—have quickly changed their tunes on immigration reform, publicly recognizing that the staunch anti-immigrant wing of the GOP must stop using hateful rhetoric aimed at immigrants and abandon the misguided campaign for additional costly and counterproductive Arizona copycat laws. These laws have not only hurt state economies but also harmed the GOP’s image, and they have the potential to jeopardize the future of the party.
The good news is that it looks like Congress is now ready to take action on immigration reform. In the meantime, state legislatures need to abandon immigration enforcement initiatives that have hurt their economies, cost millions of dollars in litigation fees and, more importantly, led to racial profiling against communities of color. And with representatives on both sides of the aisle finally ready to work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform, state legislators should instead focus on the important work that their constituents elected them to do: grow local economies and create jobs, improve access to and the quality of education and health care, and leave immigration legislation to be dealt with by the appropriate responsible party—our new Congress.
By John Herrick, Policy Fellow, Immigration Policy Project
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas