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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Immigration and Election 2012

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Here's my rundown on yesterday's election. I'm also going to break up in to smaller posts.


 


Well, the headline event of the night is the re-election of
Barack Obama as President of the US. Obama won with a pro-immigration platform
and his positions were a complete contrast to Mitt Romney who ran to the right
on immigration by endorsing "self-deportation" and hiring Kris Kobach, the
notorious author of the Arizona show me your papers law, as an advisor on
immigration policy. The talk in Washington immediately turned to the GOP having
no choice but to embrace immigration reform if it is every going to win the presidency
again. More on this below.


 


Exit Poll Numbers Disputed


Yesterday, two exit polls were conducted of Latino voters.
One was done as part of the National Election Pool, a consortium of ABC News,
Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News. The other was a
separate exit polling specifically of Latino voters conducted by Latino
Decisions. The NEP exit poll initially showed a 69% vote of Latino voters for
President Obama while Latino Decisions showed 75% support for the President.
The NEP Latino number was later changed to 71% without explanation. The
difference, according to Latino Decisions, may be due to the NEP poll being
conducted only in English, something which has been seen as depressing Obama's
support percentages with Latinos as measured in campaign period polling.


Latino Decisions also reported strong Latino support for
Senate and House candidates. 72% supported Democratic Senate candidates and 77%
supported Democratic House candidates.


 


Hispanics Voting With Democrats to Punish Republicans, not
Due to Allegiance to Obama


Latino Decisions asked Latino voters why they voted. While
39% said it was to support a Democrat and 15% to support the Republicans, 36%
stated their primary reason for voting was to support their community. That
probably has something to do with concerns over immigration since that was the
second most important issue on their minds and 60% know someone lacking legal
immigration status. But the most telling answer on this subject was in response
to the question of whether Republican support for comprehensive immigration
reform would make them more likely to vote for the GOP candidate. The answers
were


31% - more likely


11% - less likely


48% - no effect


10%  - don't know


 


The President was seen more favorably by 58% of Latino
voters as a result of his DACA policy while Mitt Romney was seen less favorably
by 57% as a result of his "self-deport" comments.


 


 


Filibuster Reform Could Help Immigration Reform Efforts


When the DREAM Act was debated a few years ago, it couldn't
pass the Senate not because a majority of Senators were against the measure,
but because the GOP filibustered and Democrats couldn't find the 60 votes they
needed. Republicans filibustered more than 200 bills in the last Congress which
is as many as they had in the last several decades combined.


Huffington Post is reporting that Senator Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged today to change the rules so that the minority party
has fewer options to obstruct legislation. He won't eliminate the filibuster,
but he's going to make it a lot harder to use. Reid's ideas include doing away
with the motion to proceed, but some are saying that such a proposal is too
modest and it would remain easy to gum up the process at other stages. There
are other proposals that include reform ideas that Reid has said he is open to
considering including ending secret holds, guaranteeing amendments that can be
offered by the majority and minority, requiring a "talking filibuster" where
senators must remain on the Senate floor and an expedite process for
nominations.


In all likelihood, the filibuster rules would be set at the
beginning of the new Congress where arguably a simple majority would be all
that is required for passage.


 


Do 2012 Election Results Provide a Mandate for Immigration
Reform?


Pundits of every stripe last night were discussing the
massive turnout of Latinos and the undisputed view that these voters made the
difference for the President. About 10% of the electorate was Latino, compared
to 9% in 2008, a difference of about 1.3 million people. And the support for
the President was up 4% from 2008, so that meant another 500,000 or so votes
for Obama. That's just under the current popular vote margin the President has
over Mitt Romney.


It's hard to see how a Republican will ever win the White
House again unless Latinos or other minorities are brought in to the GOP tent.
White voters constituted the smallest percentage of the electorate - just 72% -
ever recorded in a presidential race. If the GOP can't win in a bad economy,
and with general agreement that the white population's percentage of the
general electorate shrinking, it is hard to see this problem getting better on
its own.


That's why many believe the GOP has no choice but to support
an immigration reform package. Some key quotes compiled by America's Voice:


David Gergen on CNN: I am quite optimistic whoever wins will
get immigration reform. The Democrats want it and the Republicans now need it."


Chuck Todd on NBC: "The story of this election is
demographics. The Republican Party have not kept up with the changing face of
America...The Republican Party has serious soul-searching to do." He also said on
MSNBC: There are some things where it's the Party's fault, not Romney's fault,
but in the case Romney said 'no, no, no, I'm going to make my conservative
stand on immigration."


Fox's Brit Hume: "The Republican party's going to have to
ask itself if the hardline position that Mitt Romney assuredly took during the
primary season to try to win this election -- he took a hardline position on
immigration -- is in the long run a winning position for them.  Karl Rove and George H.W. Bush never thought
so, and others don't think so, as well. And so when they're saying 'Well, Mitt
Romney wasn't conservative enough' as some certainly will say, you have to
point to that issue as one that might be a short-term and a long-term loser for
them, politically."


Fox's BrianKilmeade: "The problem is for Republicans, less
and less white voters every year...we have got to talk about what the next four
years will look like. And I think immigration reform will be front and center."


David Gregory tweeted: "Romney personally appealed to Senate
leaders to pass immigration reform a year before he began his campaign. Demo
probs not new."


Paul Begala tweeted: "& 2014 &nd 2016
&...MT@feldmike Hispanic voters will play a decisive roll in election 2012.
Demographic trends undeniable."


Ari Fleischer said on CNN: "The big issue Republicans are
going to have to wrestle with is the Hispanic issue...with immigration, the
Republicans are going to have to figure out a different way forward."


And the Wall Street Journal editorial page: "Perhaps most
damaging, Mr. Romney failed to appeal more creatively to minority voters,
especially Hispanics. His single worst decision may have been to challenge
Texas Governor Rick Perry in the primaries by running to his right on
immigration. Mr. Romney didn't need to do this given that Mr. Perry was clearly
unprepared for a national campaign, and given the weakness of the other GOP
candidates. (Tim Pawlenty had dropped out.) 
Mr. Romney missed later chances to move to the middle on immigration
reform, especially Senator Marco Rubio's compromise on the Dream Act for young
immigrants brought here by their parents. This created the opening for Mr.
Obama to implement the core of the Dream Act by executive order, however
illegally, and boost his image with Hispanic voters.  The exit polls show that Mr. Romney did even
worse among Hispanics than John McCain in 2008, and we may learn in coming days
that this was the margin in some swing states. The GOP needs to leave its
anti-immigration absolutists behind."


Former GOP Party Chair Michael Steele on MSNBC: "For the
Republican Party, you know what our new reality is? Every month, 50,000
Hispanics turn 18 years old. That's 600,000 Hispanic youth every year. Do you
really think this party wants to spend the rest of the next 15, 20, 50 years in
the political desert? If not, then you have to get with the new reality."


There has been some disagreement over what voters generally
want to see happen. The question of immigration was raised in the major exit
poll conducted by the networks. 28% of respondents were in favor of a tough
immigration policy emphasizing deportation of illegally present immigrants. But
nearly two thirds favored offering such immigrants a path to a legal status in
the US.  Of course, the anti-immigrant
Federation for American Immigration Reform produced its own exit poll claiming
just the opposite - that 52% of respondents want tougher immigration laws
compared to 31% favoring a legalization policy. Judge for yourself. But I'd put
this up there in the same level of reliability as all of those internal polls
that said Mitt Romney would win in a landslide.


 


Maryland DREAM Act Passes


Maryland voters approved a measure that will allow
undocumented students resident in the state to pay in state tuition at the
state's colleges and universities. The state legislature actually passed a
measure that accomplished this and that bill was signed in to law by Maryland's
governor. But anti-immigration activists succeeded in getting enough petition
signatures to force the measure on to a ballot initiative.


Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, had this to say about
the measure that passed 58 to 41:


"Marylanders guided by our belief in the dignity of
every individual have chosen to make the dream of a college education a reality
for every child. In order to expand opportunity, we've chosen to hold down the
costs of college tuition for Maryland families more than any other state.


"Marylanders of all ethnic and racial backgrounds --
black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, Jewish -- came together to make this
possible, reminding us that in Maryland, our diversity is our greatest
strength."


 


Anti-Immigration Candidates Fare Poorly


Last week I reported that NumbersUSA has listed 20 races for
anti-immigrant activists to watch. Of those races, 13 of their endorsed
candidates went down to defeat. Here's the run down:


Senate:


Nevada - Heller (R) v. Berkely (D) - Heller has an
NumbersUSA A+ rating and won.


Florida - Mack (R) v. Nelson (D) - NumbersUSA endorsed Mack
and gave him an A- rating versus Nelson who got a D-. Nelson won.


Missouri - Akin (R) v. McCaskill (D) - NumbersUSA endorsed
Akin and gave him an A- rating. He lost.


Virginia - Allen (R) v. Kaine (D) - NumbersUSA gave Allen a
B rating and endorsed his candidacy. He lost.


Texas - Cruz (R) v. Sadler (D) - NumbersUSA endorsed Cruz
and gave him a "True Reformer" rating. Cruz won.


 


House


Arizona - 1 - Paton (R) v. Kirkpatrick (D) - Numbers USA
endorsed Paton who was notoriously active on immigration issues in the Arizona
legislature. Kirkpatrick won.


California- 52 - Bilbray R) v. Peters (D) - NumbersUSA
endorsed Bilbray who has an A+ rating from the group. He lost dealing a major
blow to anti-immigrants.


California - 7 -Lundgren (R) v. Bera (D)  - Lundren was given an A rating by Numbers
USA and was defeated.


California - 26 - Strickland (R) v. Brownley (D) -
Strickland was endorsed with an A rating and lost.


Colorado - 6 - Coffman (R) v. Miklosi (D) - NumbersUSA
endorsed Coffman with an A+ rating and he won.


Florida - 18 - West (R) v. Murphy (D) - This was one of the
most closely watched races in the country. Allen was given an A rating by
NumbersUSA and lost.


Illinois - 11 - Biggert (R) v. Foster (D) - This race was a
new district with two sitting members of Congress competing. Foster had a D+
rating while NumbersUSA gave Biggert a B and endorsed her. She lost.


Iowa - 4 - King (R) v. Vilsack D) - Steve King is probably
the most anti-immigrant member of Congress so easily won NumbersUSA's
endorsement. He won.


Iowa -  3 - Latham (R)
v.  Boswell (D) - A combined district led
two incumbents to oppose each other for this new seat. Boswell had a weaker
NumbersUSA rating than Latham who has an A rating. Latham won.


Maryland - 6 - Bartlett (R) v. Delaney (D)  - Bartlett has an A+ rating from NumbersUSA.
The incumbent was defeated.


Nevada - 3 - Heck (R) v. Oceguera (D) - NumbersUSA endorsed
Heck and he won.


New Hampshire - 1 - Guinta (R) v. Shea-Porter (D) - Guinta,
the incumbent, was endorsed and lost.


New Hampshire - 2 - Bass (R) v. Kuster (D) - Bass, the incumbent,
was endorsed and lost.


Ohio - 16 - Renacci (R) v. Sutton (D) - Renacci was endorsed
by NumbersUSA and won.


Pennsylvania - 12  -
Rothfus (R) v. Critz (D) - Rothfus had the NumbersUSA endorsement and beat the
incumbent Democrat Critz.


In another race, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was reelected in
Maricopa County.


Generally speaking, a good night for pro-immigration
activists, especially at the presidential level.


 


African Americans Strongly Support Immigration Reform


According to an NAACP election eve battleground state poll,
93% of African Americans support the DREAM Act (71% strongly, 21% somewhat) and
80% support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

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