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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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GOP presidential candidates are tripping over each other to court the nativist wing of their party, but a new Pew poll of Hispanic citizens shows that the cost of winning over this small segment of voters could be winning next November.

The GOP barely won the White House in the last two elections and part of that is because they were able to edge out Democrats in a few key states like Florida and Colorado. But new polling data suggests that Hispanic voters are shifting dramatically to the Democrats and immigration is the key reason.

Hispanic voters' percentage of the electorate has tripled since 1992 and their 40% support from President Bush in 2004 is arguably the reason for his narrow victory. In 2006, Hispanic support for GOP candidates fell to just 20%. According to the Pew survey, eight years of steady shifting of Hispanic allegiance to the GOP has been completely reversed. Hispanics now say by a 5 to 1 margin that Democrats care more about their issues. 79% now rank immigration as their key issue, up from 63% in 2004.

GIven that Hispanics are likely to constitute 12% or so of the electorate and given that their support for the GOP could drop in half from 2004, this shift could easily cost the GOP the election. And given that several key states the GOP won in the last two elections have large Hispanic populations, the fallout could be far worse than just the loss of a few percentage points.

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  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Let's hope that they come out and vote in force otherwise they will be ignored by both parties on all issues.
  2. JoeF's Avatar
    Oh, they will, if history is any guide.
    In California in 1994, then governor Pete Wilson ran a very anti-immigrant campaign, including supporting a proposition that would have denied social services to illegals (the infamous Prop 187:
    After that, lots of Latinos became citizens and registered to vote, which brought the Democrats into office and Latinos from districts like Santa Ana into Congress, e.g., Loretta Sanchez, who defeated Republican loudmouth "B1" Bob Dornan.
  3. indianGuy's Avatar
    This is another attempt to spread misinformation. In the last election, GOP lost not because Democrats want illegals to become citizens. They lost chiefly because of the public's dissatisfaction with the Iraq war the way it was going on then. Add to that all the scandals. This becomes evident from the fact that the newly elected first term democrats are almost GOP-like when it comes to opposing illegal immigration. This is also why the comprehensive immigration reform failed. Another example of this is the failure of drivers' license movement in New York, a big democratic state.

    People vote for democrats not because they want illegals to become citizens. They vote for democrats for other issues like Iraq war, economy, etc. They are at best ambivalent when it comes to illegal immigration. On the other hand, a substantial part of the republican base votes for GOP because they oppose illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is an winning issue for republicans just like gay marriage was in the last elections to energize their base.

    You talk about Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada. Nobody cares about those states. Just 20 electoral votes in total in those three states. If the GOP can play this illegal immigration card smartly, states like Pennsylvania and Michigan will be in play next year. And you can forget about Florida also.

    Hispanics make up just 8% of the electorate and largely concentrated in already unwinnable states like California and New York anyway. I urge non-hispanic readers of this blog not to be swayed by this propaganda here. GOP is not anti-immigrant, but anti-illegal immigrant.
  4. USC's Avatar
    "I urge non-hispanic readers of this blog not to be swayed by this propaganda here. GOP is not anti-immigrant, but anti-illegal immigrant."

    I am non-hispanic and urge all readers not to listen to indianGuy. Greg is not the one indulging in propaganda or attempting to mislead. Typical Republican tactics.

    When I vote Democratic I vote against my own pocket book. However, I do so because the GOP is wrong on every major issue of the day including Immigration, Social Issues, Iraq & the Economy. But don't listen to me either. Click on the link below. As the link on their website makes clear they are committed to reducing "LEGAL" & illegal immigration. They have graded all 535 members of Congress:

    If I may be permitted to summarize:

    A+ 21 Republicans, 0 Democrats
    A 49 Republicans, 3 Democrats
    A- 32 Republicans, 6 Democrats
    B+ 29 Republicans, 5 Democrats
    B 43 Republicans, 11 Democrats

    D+ 2 Republicans, 9 Democrats
    D 4 Republicans, 35 Democrats
    D- 3 Republicans, 43 Democrats
    F 2 Republicans, 87 Democrats
    F- 0 Republicans, 22 Democrats

    "Americans for Better Immigration (ABI) seeks to grade all Congressional actions since 1989 that affected -- or would have affected -- the numerical level of immigration and illegal migration into the U.S"

    "Those who favor LESS congestion, sprawl and foreign labor competition can use the grades in the opposite way by knowing that Members with an F are working against them and Members with A are working for them."

  5. USC's Avatar
    So, those who adopt the agenda of Americans for Better Immigration (ABI), as indicated by a grade of B or better breakdown as follows:

    Republicans 174, Democrats 25 (Out of 251 Republicans)

    Those opposed to ABI, as indicated by a grade of D+ or worse:

    Republicans 11, Democrats 196 (Out of 282 Democrats)

    I think it is pretty clear as to where the two parties stand on legal & illegal immigration.

    Also to those who have trashed Senator Kennedy because of his alleged opposition to EB immigration. Here is his scorecord on:

    Reduce Unnecessary Visas (which is how ABI describes EB)

    "The grade in this category weighs all actions that deal with permanent and temporary foreign workers."

    A double F- is the lowest possible grade which is what Kennedy gets (indicating that he favors increasing EB). I quickly clicked through the Senators and there are many, many more Democrats with F or F- on the EB category than Republicans. So much for the theory that Democrats are opposed to EB and Republicans in favor of EB.

    BTW, Cornyn supposed good friend of the EB folks, doesn't fare so well. Looks like he talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. LOL!

  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    IndianGuy - I hate to get in the way of a good narrative, but you've made a number of simply false factual statements.

    First, any of those "nobody cares about" states you dismiss could have shifted the 2000 election and any one of them could shift the election again. And did you forget about a little state named Florida that has one of the highest percentage of Hispanic voters in the country? The combination of a large Mexican population in that state and several recent polls showing Cuban voters trending toward the Democrats spell blue in the upcoming election.

    As for Michigan and Pennsylvania, those are states that used to be winners for the GOP on a regular basis. But ask Senator Santorum or the recently re-elected Democratic governor of Michigan about this. THere is NO - I repeat NO - evidence that a single Democrat has lost a seat because they were too liberal on immigration. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of the opposite result for the GOP. In fact, there is no evidence that the GOP has shifted any votes on this issue even excluding Hispanic voters. The only thing they are using this to do is to try and get a demoralized Republican base energized to get out and vote something they have managed to do with Karl Rove in the last two elections. In short, the GOP is using immigration to stop a hemorrhaging of support in its own ranks as opposed to using the issue to get new voters.

    Another fact I didn't include before - the rate of naturalization amongst foreign born residents of the country has been accelerating rapidly and Hispanics constitute half of that population - 52% of the foreign born are now citizens compared to 38% in 1990. That means that not only are there more Hispanics in the US now, a higher percent are citizens which will only amplify their impact on the vote (

    Hispanics are the fastest growing part of the population. That's a fact. It's a fact that they were trending Republican for the last decade. And it's a fact that the GOP has lost this support. And even if Hispanics don't have the raw numbers, they can effectively be a swing vote. If they start voting for Democrats in the same percentage as black voters, this WILL shift elections. Many elections only take a shift of a few percentage points in a single swing group to shift results.

    I'm going to make a prediction that at least 10 Republican members of Congress will lose their seats as a result of the immigration issue alone and that no Democrats will. Republicans will likely lose another 20 or so seats for other reasons. In the Senate, Democrats will pick up another five seats and at least one to two will be because of immigration. No Democrat will lose based on that issue (probably none will lose anyway).

    And the Democratic nominee will win the White House with 75 to 85% of the Hispanic vote (compared to 56% four years ago).

    As Mel Martinez, the recent chairman of the Republican National Committee noted (before he was ousted by anti-immigrants in his own party):

    "We, as Republicans, need to be careful about how we address this issue. This issue has galvanized the Hispanic community and the Latin community in America like no other issue."

  7. USC's Avatar
    "IndianGuy - I hate to get in the way of a good narrative"

    Greg, a google search of your forum/indianguy reveals the following:

    Now this guy directs a lot of venom towards hispanics. See his posts. In addition, he isn't exactly pro-Indian:

    "I hope the nurses visa does not get into the bill. Those nurses are greatly needed in countries like India and other underdeveloped countries. I have no sympathy for these nurses. They should not get subsidized education India and leave the country the first chance they get.

    Posted by: indianGuy | November 13, 2007 at 04:03 PM"

    "Dream Act Guy : I oppose increasing the h-1b visas. 65k + 20k is the right number. If h-1b numbers increase, there will be 200k Indians moving to USA every year. This will drive up labor costs in India and erode India's competitiveness. If companies want cheaper/skilled labor, they should offshore their entire design cycle to places like India. That is actually going to happen if h-1b numbers stay the same or go down. This will be a big plus for India's economy in the future.

    Mr. Siskind : Indian government cannot explicitly forbid or penalize anyone who wants to leave because that is not possible in a democracy.

    Posted by: indianGuy | November 14, 2007 at 02:46 PM"

    Perhaps, there is a conclusion to be drawn!
  8. AJ's Avatar
    I'm all for a change because the Republicans don't have *any* new ideas, but the Democrats scare me a bit. Frankly they have been an absolute disaster for EB immigration issues as well as protection of US workers. Their repeated re-instatement of 245(i) in the 90's coupled with reduction in funding for DOL both overwhelmed LC/LCA processing capacity as well as compromised DOL's ability to protect US workers. I suspect at least some of the headwinds against H1B expansion are a direct result of DOLs inability to modernise the prevailing wage process.
  9. paskal's Avatar

    a cartoon history of nativism in the immigration debate
    thanks to the blogger in WP that posted this link in response to the antis' postings in response to the Shah article.
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