The Mix

Latino trends "spell trouble for Republicans"

Democrats win the popularity contest among Hispanic voters
During the 2004 election season, there was a lot of hoopla about Hispanic voters. The demographic group was considered contested territory in an incredibly close election. In story after story, journalists noted that the social conservatism of Latinos was at odds with their historic Democratic bent. Democrats worried that Latino voters, who are largely Catholic and more pro-life than most other groups, might be less loyal Democrats than previously thought. So when Latinos voted 44% for Bush, knees shook over the scary idea that it meant the beginning of the end: Hispanic voters were defecting to the other side.

Last week, a survey by the Latino Coalition reassured Dems and lefties everywhere that their fears of an increasingly Hispano-Republican voting bloc were a little exaggerated. The survey shows trends that "spell trouble for the Republican Party."

The survey showed that most Latinos thought Democrats do a better job at creating more jobs and improving the economy, improving education, providing more affordable health care, staying in touch with the Hispanic community, and, notably, representing their views on immigration.

What are Hispanics' views on immigration? The survey included that information as well:
"Hispanic registered voters are strongly supporting initiatives to reform immigration while penalizing illegal behavior. A majority of Hispanic voters (52.4 percent) support initiatives that would not allow people who entered this county illegally to become citizens unless they reapply from their country of origin… By a margin of 50 percent to 41 percent, Hispanic voters support increasing the number of border patrol agents in our southern border, and also support new laws to make sure that employers can only hire workers who are in the U.S. legally (50 percent to 41 percent). An overwhelming majority of 82 percent support the creation of a new Temporary Worker Program. Also a plurality (41.2 percent to 39.9 percent) support imposing a fine of at least $2,000 for illegal immigrants in order to gain legal employment as a temporary worker in the U.S."
The Latino Coalition warns the Republican Party that Hispanic voters will be alienated if the GOP "allows an extremist group to control the debate over immigration reform and put partisan rhetoric over real commonsense legislation."

That means listening to Latinos, rejecting a wall across the border, and creating a workable plan that allows hard-working, crime-free undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship.
Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.
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