By Jose Cruz, Our Tiempo
Last Tuesday’s election will go down in history as the moment when the “sleeping giant” known as the Latino vote finally woke up dealing a decisive blow to the GOP and electing Obama to a second term. According to initial exit polls, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who backed hard-line immigration measures, walked away with a meager 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, less than any presidential candidate in 16 years.
The political fallout may be just the boost the pro-reform movement has needed for years as the GOP leadership appears to be finally shifting their stance on the immigration debate. Even staunch pundits like Fox New’s Sean Hannity came out last week singing a different tune-
“I think you control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here — you don’t say you’ve got to go home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on.”
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, told ABC News last Thursday:
“This issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
While it is true that the GOP has for years listened to the anti-reform hardliners within their party, Latino Republicans have also been working to for change from the inside for some time and now are in the best position to influence their party.
Mario Lopez, the President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund tells us- “There are some signs of an internal debate already in the Republican Party, and I think ultimately there will be some room for movement on immigration policy. But regardless of the policy details, what is most important is that Republicans rethink the false assumptions about immigrants, legal or otherwise—assumptions that have driven the damaging rhetoric and alarm-ism on this issue.”
While both sides have long agreed on securing the boarder, the “black sheep” of the immigration debate has always been what to do with the estimated 8 million already in the country without legal status. Granting a “pathway to citizenship” for these undocumented has always been the hardest selling point to the GOP whose far-right base has labeled “Amnesty” and is needed by the party to win elections.
“I think what is more likely is some degree of movement on policy that effects DREAMers and perhaps some sort of earned legal residency.” Mario tells us. “A path to citizenship, even with penalties and other requirements seems unlikely outside of the existing citizenship process.”
Still, movement is movement and for the first time in a long time immigration is being given priority. The question is, will anything outside of a path to citizenship be enough to woo back Latino voters who have now proven themselves a crucial voting bloc in U.S. politics?
This article was first published in Our Tiempo.
Jose Cruz is a Puerto Rican/Irish multi-city/multi-hat guru at OurTiempo.com. An online entrepreneur, Jose is the in house editor and writer. With a background in politics and a career that includes a law degree, the Clinton White House and managing and developing websites geared at the Latino community, his tastes are as diverse as his work. Just at home diving into a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza to munching on a Fish Taco in East LA. Twitter: @JoseCruz2000
[Photos courtesy Our Tiempo]