Doug Ramsey, Public News Service

PHOENIX – Arizona Latinos believe comprehensive immigration reform is closer to reality as a result of last week’s national election. Border Action Network director Juanita Molina says extensive voter registration drives and get-out-the vote efforts produced the largest Latino voter turnout in the state’s history.

“What we’re seeing is a lot more of the Latino community actually registering and participating in the election. I think that SB-1070 had a huge impact for us in this state, and now we see that the Latino vote is actually having an impact on larger elections.”

Both Republicans and Democrats acknowledge that Latino votes made the difference in several battleground states in the recent election, with support for Democratic candidates as high as 80 percent.

For political reasons alone, says Molina, the incentive is there for Republicans to end their opposition to immigration reform. Republicans may also be able to justify support for comprehensive immigration reform for purely business reasons, she adds.

“Much of the individualistic point of view of the Republican Party is ‘business first.’ Just on a basic level – taking out all the human factors around immigration – we know that poor immigration policy is bad business for the United States.”

President Obama promised to enact immigration reform during his first term, but was unable to keep that promise. Molina says she’s more confident that he’ll be successful this time.

“I think there’s increased pressure from the community and also other elected officials, not only on a national level but also on a local level. This has greatly impacted many industries here in the United States, and having no clear resolution just creates a very uncertain future.”

Republicans have insisted that immigration reform must wait until the border with Mexico is secure. Molina says border enforcement has achieved that goal.

“I can say, from my personal observation, that the border is secure. There is a huge presence, all along the border.”

On Friday, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that it’s “time to get the job done” on immigration reform.

This article was first published in Public News Service.

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[Photo By Bri Lehman]

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