Will Virginia Republicans Lose the Governor’s Race Over Hostility to Immigrants?

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Matters to Virginia Voters.


Virginia, U.S. – As purple Virginia marches closer to a gubernatorial race, advocates for immigrants argue that Republicans are doing themselves no favors through continued alliance with the most extreme elements of the party.

Virginia has become a purple state and has succeeded in electing a Democratic president for two consecutive terms. A driving factor moving the state into the safely swing category is its growing diversity and the political engagement of those communities. According to University of Virginia research, the state of Virginia is expected to receive 800,000 new residents each decade which, with the growing Hispanic, African American and Asian communities, will create a racially diverse environment for future elections. And those voters support reform.

Recently, a poll sponsored  by Republicans for Immigration Reform, Alliance for Citizenship and the Partnership for a New American Economy demonstrated that an average of 67.76% of respondents in 29 states including Virginia strongly or somewhat supported the bipartisan immigration reform legislation proposed in the Senate.

According to another poll, conducted by Latino Decisions for America’s Voice, which surveyed Latino voters in Virginia, 64% of respondents stated that immigration was either the most or one of the most important factors when voting during the presidential election of 2012. Moreover, the poll results showed that 70% of Latino voters in Battleground districts, including Virginia, have disagreed with the way that Republicans in Congress are currently handling immigration policy.

While the capacity for Virginia statewide Republican wins continues to decline, prominent Republican leaders have continued to undercut their chances. Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli famously compared immigration to pest control, took leadership on multiple anti-immigrant bills and policies, and joined an effort to deny citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented parents.

Cuccinelli has toned down his rhetoric as he runs for Governor, understanding that those positions do not further a win. Still he is not helped along by prominent Republican congressmen like Frank Wolf (VA 10) who voted recently to defund an enormously popular program launched by the administration to grant temporary status to young people born outside the United States who have furthered their education and led crime-free lives.

In taking that vote, Congressman Wolf aligned himself with anti-immigrant extremist Steve King (IA 4) whose comments that more undocumented youth in the United States are drug mules than decent students have exposed the party to national and widespread ridicule. Wolf’s posture is echoed by Virginia Republicans Bob Goodlatte (VA 6) and Eric Cantor (VA 7) who have neglected to use their leadership positions in the House to move forward legitimate attempts to pass overwhelmingly popular reform efforts.

“Virginia Republicans quiver at the cusp of political oblivion,” said Lilian Flores, a VA 10th district voter.  “They either get this right or they’re discontinued to exist.”

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