Hispanic / Latino

NDN in the News: Immigration

This past week has been a perfect example of the influence NDN is having in the immigration debate, reflected below by the number of press appearances we've been in:

Immigration Is the Question - June Kronholz, Wall Street Journal

Kronholz cites NDN and its new report, Hispanics Rising, to show how catastrophic the GOP's immigration strategy could be:

Hispanics made up 8% of the national vote in 2006, but their growing numbers and anger with the Republicans over such talk could mean electoral gold for the Democrats. NDN, a nonprofit Democratic think tank, predicts "there is no reasonable [Republican] road map to victory in 2008" if growing Hispanic populations tip several key states into the Democratic column.

Democrats sidestep immigration issue - David Lightman, Miami Herald

In his piece, David Lightman compares the opinions of the Democratic candidates to those of the Republicans in advance of the Nevada debate. He said of the Democrats, "Democratic presidential candidates are likely to sound similar Thursday night at their Las Vegas debate when they discuss illegal immigration -- if they talk much about it at all."

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Take on Las Vegas - NPR

This audio interview features commentary between Tara Setmayer and Joe Garcia, Director of NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center. Joe discusses the Nevada Presidential debate, and other issues in the presidential debate focusing on immigration, with a specific focus on Tom Tancredo's extremely controversial TV ad.

Candidates Walk a Tightrope on Immigration - Michael Luo, New York Times

Michael Luo sets the distinction in the very opening of his piece:

THE Republican presidential candidates talk about illegal immigration as if they were in an arms race on toughness. The Democratic candidates have begun to tread more warily on the issue, as their debate last week in Las Vegas showed, but they still favor the language of accommodation over alarm.

It's very much worth mentioning that the piece acknowledges the existence of polling data that shows heavy support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Immigration issue could make or break presidential candidates - Alexandra Marks, The Christian Science Monitor

Alexandra Marks states early on what the positions of the various candidates are on immigration. She then moves swiftly into discussing the aftermath such positions could have on each party, even citing our new report, Hispanics Rising:

A recent report called "Hispanics Rising" done by NDN, a progressive Democrat-leaning think tank, notes there was "a dramatic reversal" of Hispanic voting patterns as a result. In 2004, 40 percent of Hispanics voted Republican, according to exit polls cited by NDN. In 2006, only 30 percent pulled the lever for the GOP.

The piece closes with an interesting quote: "If a Democrat does get elected, there will be a serious effort to come back to something that, ironically, won't be too different from what President Bush proposed [in 2006]." Interesting...

Huckabee and Chuck Norris: new ad

I just couldn't wait for tomorrow morning's roundup to post Mike Huckabee's new ad featuring Chuck Norris, I'm sorry. Check it out below. (Thanks to Brad, a former NDN intern and Arkansas native for sending this!)

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

The NYTimes also writes about immigration

The top story in the Times' Week in Review section also tackles the immigration issue. I'm quoted towards the end. I will have more to say on the piece soon.

You can also find of some of our thinking on this on the immigration section of our site. A good one to start with is my recent post, the GOP Throws in the Towel on Immigration Reform?

The Post takes on the driver's license issue - intelligently

For those struggling to make sense of the driver's license issue, a new Washington Post editorial is a must read. The title tells the story:

Posturing and Driver's Licenses - Illegal immigrants already drive. The real question is whether to promote safety.

USA Today on Nevada and Latinos

Building directly off of Simon's post below on the significance of tonight's Democratic Presidential Candidate debate in Las Vegas is a great piece from USA Today. From the article:

Nevada's growing Hispanic population is one reason the Democratic Party scheduled caucuses for Jan. 19, just after the nominating contests in the less diverse states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

"It's giving the Hispanic vote and the labor vote a voice early in the process," said state Democratic Party Chairwoman Jill Derby.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

The Nevada Debate and Caucus: background on the Southwest, Immigration and Hispanics

Michael Gerson said it best in his Washington Post column:

I have never seen an issue [immigration] where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters -- Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans … Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

Tonight's Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas draws attention to a state and region of the country that will play a very large role in deciding the next President of the United States.

In each of the last 4 Presidential elections Democrats have won 19 states totaling 248 Electoral College votes of the 270 needed to win. In the last two elections Democrats have lost the Presidency by a small margin in a single state - Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000. In each of these two elections the President Bush won a very high percentage of Hispanic voters, making the 5 swing Presidential states with large Hispanic populations - AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV - much more Republican. In 2004 President Bush won them all, and relied on this Hispanic regional strategy to secure his narrow victory. (See NDN's recent report, Hispanics Rising, and our new article we've just published in Mother Jones for maps detailing all this).

But in 2005, despite the clear and evident success of the Bush Hispanic strategy, the Republicans rejected this approach, instead replacing it one that demonized immigrants - call it the Romney/Tancredo approach. In 2006 the House GOP blocked bi-partisan efforts to pass immigration reform. In 2007 it was the Senate Republicans who blocked a bi-partisan effort backed by the President himself. Throughout all this national Republicans and their allies used extra-ordinary language and images to describe Hispanic immigrants, and the result has been a reversal of GOP gains in this community, the fastest growing part of the American electorate. In the 2006 elections the GOP lost 20 points with Hispanics. Angered by the rhetoric, Hispanics also voted in very high numbers, increasing their share of the American electorate by 33% - from 6% of the national vote in 2002 to 8% in 2006.

All of this is why I've described the Republicans handling of the immigration issue a catastrophic event for their party (click here and here for our analysis of how the issue played in the 2007 and 2006 elections). They are replaying the same play Pete Wilson played in California in the 1990s, one that was instrumental in turning a state that birthed Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and turned it into one of the bluest and most progressive states in the country. If the current Hispanic trends continue, these five states - AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV - will almost certainly go the Democrats way in 2008. If that happens it becomes very hard to see how the GOP wins the Presidency, as they would have to win a major northern state they have not won since the 1980s. Possible of course, but not something they can count on, which is why Bush Republicans like Gerson, who understand how they won, are "terrified."

The strategic importance of this region drove the decision in 2005 by the DNC to change the decades-old Democratic Presidential nominating process, long dominated by Iowa and New Hampshire. Next year for the first time in many many years, a new state will go just after Iowa and it will not be New Hampshire. It will be Nevada.

So as you look at this debate tonight in this small state in the Southwest, think about how this state, this region, this community of Hispanic voters, and this issue of immigration may very well be the key to the Presidency in 2008.

GOP throws in the towel on immigration reform?

Just three days after their second consecutive election where a massive investment in demonizing immigrants did not pay off for the Republican Party, the leading GOP Presidential candidates have agreed to participate in a December Univision debate in Miami. There is simply no way to read this action as anything but a national repudiation of their extreme anti-immigrant strategy of recent years, and a desperate attempt to beg the Hispanic community for forgiveness.

Perhaps the GOP reviewed NDN's analysis of how the immigration issue played in the last two elections. (Learn more about how the growing Hispanic vote will be the key to either Party's 21st century majority in our new study on the Hispanic electorate and immigration, Hispanics Rising, and in a new piece we just published in Mother Jones.) Or perhaps they read former White House speechwriter Michael Gerson's column in the Washington Post which argued:

I have never seen an issue [immigration] where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters -- Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans … Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

Or this Washington Post report from Virginia about Tuesday's big GOP loss there:

The one point on which moderates and conservatives seem to agree is that their party overplayed the illegal immigration issue. "They went for a magic bullet with immigration, and it didn't work," says a conservative strategist who doesn't want his name used because his clients don't agree that immigration is a losing issue. Prince William County board Chairman Corey Stewart, the strategist says, "won last year as the anti-tax and anti-growth candidate, and he ended up in the same place this year. He pushed hard on immigration, but it didn't move his numbers" in his reelection victory Tuesday.

Moderates say harsh rhetoric on immigration repelled independent voters. Northern Virginians "know this crackdown on illegal immigration was posturing," Potts says. "The only entity in the world that could solve that problem is the federal government."

Or this analysis from Roll Call's executive editor Morton Kondracke from yesterday:

For the umpteenth time, American voters this year have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don’t make this your 2008 wedge issue.

Election results on Tuesday, especially in Virginia and New York state, also should encourage nervous Democrats that they can support comprehensive immigration reform — stronger enforcement plus earned legalization — and prevail.

Kondracke noted that, while the GOP's general strategy poses a threat, their insistence upon using the issue is even worse:

Even though past election results overwhelmingly indicate that enforcement-only campaigns don’t succeed — indeed, by offending Hispanics, pose a long-term threat to the GOP — Republicans seem bent on making illegal immigration a centerpiece of their 2008 campaigns.

...

Despite all that evidence, House GOP leaders have staged vote after vote on amendments designed to restrict benefits to illegal immigrants — even where the law already restricts them — and Senate Republicans led the way, joined by nine Democrats, in filibustering the DREAM Act, which would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

If Republicans want to destroy their future prospects in increasingly Hispanic, once-Republican states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, it’s their option. But the process could be very nasty.

Or this recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal - "Hispanics and the GOP."

Either way, the GOP's decision to go to Miami next month is a good one for the country. Let us hope it signals a new era for the Republican Party, one that ends both their demonization of immigrants and their strategy of blocking all common sense immigration reform legislation. In 2006 it was the House Republicans who blocked the big immigration reform package. In 2007 it was the Senate Republicans. Perhaps their admission of defeat will allow a new era where the two parties can come together and design a new 21st century immigration system that reflects the strong values of our great nation and meets the needs of the changing modern American economy.

Must-read Roll Call piece on immigration and the GOP

This morning, Mort Kondracke from Roll Call published a must-read piece on how the GOP is using immigration as a wedge issue. From the lede:

For the umpteenth time, American voters this year have rejected a nativist approach to illegal immigration. It ought to be a warning to Republicans: Don’t make this your 2008 wedge issue.

Election results on Tuesday, especially in Virginia and New York state, also should encourage nervous Democrats that they can support comprehensive immigration reform — stronger enforcement plus earned legalization — and prevail.

Kondracke noted that, while the GOP's general strategy poses a threat, their insistence upon using the issue is even worse:

Even though past election results overwhelmingly indicate that enforcement-only campaigns don’t succeed — indeed, by offending Hispanics, pose a long-term threat to the GOP — Republicans seem bent on making illegal immigration a centerpiece of their 2008 campaigns.

...

Despite all that evidence, House GOP leaders have staged vote after vote on amendments designed to restrict benefits to illegal immigrants — even where the law already restricts them — and Senate Republicans led the way, joined by nine Democrats, in filibustering the DREAM Act, which would have allowed young people brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

If Republicans want to destroy their future prospects in increasingly Hispanic, once-Republican states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona, it’s their option. But the process could be very nasty.

(Note: the Roll Call article requires a subscription, but you can read Mr. Kondracke's entire piece on-line at Real Clear Politics.)

For more information, be sure to read our statement from yesterday (and our report, Hispanics Rising) that echoes much of what is stated in Roll Call. Also check out a post from Jim Geraghty at the National Review.

Immigration, once again, despite huge GOP investment, does not perform for the GOP

For the second consecutive November election, the national GOP invested a great deal of money, candidate time and hope in using the issue of immigration to hurt Democrats. For the second consecutive election it did not deliver for the GOP (see this report from the National Immigration Forum for how the issue played in 2006).

Two headlines this morning tell the story:

"New York Democrats Say License Issue Had Little Effect"New York Times

"In the Ballot Booths, No Fixation on Immigration"Washington Post

The election results told us that while the American people are unhappy with our broken immigration system, they are looking for leaders willing to step up and solve the problem, rather than simply offering empty rhetoric and scapegoating. In each election, the GOP's strategy has been to inflame people's concerns about immigration, scapegoat immigrants themselves, while failing to offer a plan to fix it. In each election, Democrats advocated pragmatic solutions to a tough national problem and were rewarded on election day.

Looking ahead to next year, all of the Democratic candidates for President are united around a plan, called Comprehensive Immigration Reform, for fixing the broken immigration system. Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been one of the most bi-partisan legislative initiatives of recent years, as it has been enthusiastically supported by the Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce, many labor unions and immigrant rights groups, and political leaders as diverse as John McCain, George Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. In its original form it passed the Republican controlled Senate in 2006, and in 2007 even virulent anti-immigration Senators like John Kyl accepted the need to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants already here.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform takes a three-part strategy to fixing our broken immigration system. It would 1) toughen up on the border and in the workplace 2) deal with the future flow of immigrants more intelligently to reduce future illegal immigrants from coming into the country 3) legalize the work status and create an earned path to citizenship for those 11-12 million already here, working, paying taxes and raising their families.

This common sense, tough and smart plan to fix our immigration system is supported by the American people. As a new memo from the National Immigration Forum shows there is majority support for the framework of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, including granting the undocumenteds a path to citizenship. Most national polls taken in 2007 showed 60 % plus support for allowing undocumenteds to stay in the country.

What the elections in recent weeks have taught there are smart solutions to the fixing the immigration system that draw broad public support – such as the legislation known as Comprehensive Immigration Reform – and there are approaches that work less well. Of course this makes immigration reform just like any other issue facing American political leaders today.

While the Democratic candidates for President have stood hard and fast on the side of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the Republican candidates for President - save John McCain - oppose this legislation and have failed to offer any kind of realistic reform plan. Given the early polling, we should expect a very significant debate next year on immigration, with one Party largely unified in their support of a plan to fix the immigration system, and one Party largely unified in their defense of an untenable status quo.

The Republican handling of the immigration issue has been a disaster for their Party. They have invested tens of millions of dollars in an issue that has not performed, and has worked to reinforce their image as a Party more concerned with politics than solving problems. It cost them their national Chairman, Mel Martinez, who resigned over how his Party was handling the issue. And it is has alienated, perhaps permanently, the fastest growing part of the American electorate, Hispanics. The national GOP has seen these kinds of politics play out before in California in the 1990s. Their demonization and scapegoating of immigrants turned California, the home of Nixon and Reagan, into one of the most Democratic and progressive states in the nation.

As NDN outlines in a new article in Mother Jones magazine and in a recent major report on the Hispanic electorate, the strategic missteps of the Republicans on the immigration issue may very well be the key to a new and durable 21st century majority for Democrats. Michael Gerson, former speechwriter to George W. Bush, makes a similar argument in a recent Washington Post column:

I have never seen an issue [immigration] where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters -- Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans … Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

NDN's hope is that in the years ahead the Republican Party will come to realize that their immigration strategy has been a strategic disaster, and decide to sit down and work with the Democrats to build a 21st century American immigration system that meets the need of our modern economy and does so in a way that is consistent with our values.

YouTube interactive documentary on immigration

Two filmmakers in Virginia have documented the immigration debate as it played out in Prince William County, Virginia. They created a YouTube account where they posted their videos as part of what they call an "interactive documentary." Check out the video below for an example:

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