GOP House votes on immigration bills last Friday were a gift to Democrats, ensuring high Hispanic support for Democrats for years to come.
In Colorado statewide races, the Hispanic vote is significant. More than 485,000 Hispanics, 12 percent of the electorate, are registered to vote. In 2012, President Obama got 75 percent of their vote. Several other battleground states also have large numbers of Hispanic (or Latino) voters, and they could determine the balance in the U.S. Senate.
Two Colorado Republican congressmen bucked their party and voted no on the Republican bill. The impact is to deprive Democrats of some campaign sound bites to rally greater turnout of the Hispanic vote this November. It does not change Hispanic perception of the general anti-Latino immigrant tone of the Republican Party.
Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall is facing U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner. Former congressman Bob Beauprez (R) is challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), and Democrat Andrew Romanoff is taking on Republican Congressman Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District. Coffman gained more Hispanic voters in his Denver suburban district through redistricting so that he has had to do some backtracking on his hard-line anti-immigrant positions. Gardner and he were two of the few GOP House members who voted against the Republican bills. Beauprez has yet to check in on this year’s immigration issues.
There are three major sore points between Hispanics and Republicans: dreamers, pathway to citizenship, and deportation of children in the recent border crisis. Both agree to secure borders, only the GOP makes it a condition of doing anything, if anything, later. Hispanics want a comprehensive package plan.
Dreamers were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children. Frustrated by Republican opposition to support legislation to allow them to work and study without fear of deportation, President Obama used executive orders to give dreamers a two-year reprieve and has threatened to extend and expand deferred deportation by executive order. One of the Republican bills Friday would have stripped him from being able to use his executive power or prosecutorial discretion, exposing half a million young people to deportation in the middle of their studies.
GOP anti-immigrant rhetoric calls a pathway to citizenship “amnesty,” and Friday they killed a bipartisan compromise the Senate had hammered out. Both Gardner and Coffman have a history of opposing comprehensive immigration reform that would give a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented and the dream acts.
The “crisis on the border” with nearly 60,000, mostly children, flooding the U.S. also got the GOP anti-immigrant treatment. Their Friday bill slashed administration requests for funds, and it gutted an anti-human trafficking law. Their action would have allowed instant deportation regardless of any due process hearings or humane considerations the law requires. It also would have reopened gates to Central American traffickers.
Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader, will allow no votes in the Senate on these House bills, effectively killing them. The president now can only address the border crisis and dreamer issues with his limited executive powers and resources.
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