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The Republican Party and Latino Voters

April 3, 2012

Last week, Politico reported that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is discussing legislation described as a Republican version of the DREAM Act with other Republican senators from border states. The effort is part of a broader push by Republicans to engage with Latino voters, who comprise 9% of the electorate.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported on efforts by Republicans to attract the Latino vote. The presumptive Republican presidental nominee, Mitt Romney, is polling lower among Latino voters than John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004.

Mr. Romney has turned off some Hispanic voters by calling a strict Arizona law a model for the nation, promising to veto the Dream Act in its current form and saying he hopes those here illegally will self-deport after tough laws make it impossible to get a job or do other business.

Mr. Obama faces his own challenges. The Pew poll found his approval ratings were down among Hispanics, and it found six in 10 disapprove of his handling of deportations, which have risen to record levels.

Today’s New York Times profiles Utah Republican Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, considered a moderate on the issue of immigration.

Mr. Shurtleff becomes emotional when he speaks of the children of illegal immigrants and the efforts of some Republicans to repeal the 14th Amendment and deny them American citizenship. After the Civil War, the amendment was adopted to overcome the Dred Scott ruling by guaranteeing citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

“I have a chance,” he said, “to speak to these kids in Spanish and see how much they love America.” Republicans, he said, “need to realize they’re not the enemy.”

Last year Utah’s legislature passed a compromise enforcement bill which included provisions of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 , expanding police authority to identify illegal immigrants, coupled with a provision giving some of those immigrants state permits as guest workers.


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