Election Sets Stage for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2013

President Obama won re-election with the solid support of the Latino electorate, reaching a historic high of 75 percent — the largest percentage for a Democratic presidential nominee since President Kennedy’s election in 1960 — according to Latino Decisions-impreMedia Election eve poll of Latino voters. The Latino electorate also appears to have voted in record numbers across the country.

The president’s huge 75-23 percent margin of support among Latino voters over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney boosted the president to victory in key battleground states, according to the poll http://www.latinodecisions.com/2012-election-eve-polls/

Obama’s largest Latino vote margins came in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts, where he got 89 percent to Romney’s nine percent, and in Colorado, where the margin was 87 percent to 10 percent. The Latino vote significantly helped the president in Florida where he received 58 percent of the vote according to the poll. In Nevada and Ohio, Latinos supported the president by 80 percent and 82 percent, respectively.

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, a national leader in the campaign to mobilize the Latino vote, issued the following statement:

“This is a historic night for the country and for millions of Latino voters who flexed their political muscle to push President Obama over the top in key battleground states. Latinos proved we are a national political force and growing stronger with each election cycle.

“Through our votes, we said, ‘Yes!’ to the president’s plans to move our country forward with good jobs and expanded health care. We said, ‘Yes!’ to comprehensive immigration reform. And we said, ‘No!’ to scapegoating of immigrants and communities of color.

“Importantly, this election proved that comprehensive immigration reform is not the third rail of politics, as many politicians have wrongly suggested. President Obama’s strong commitment to immigration reform solidified his support from the Latino community and won the votes of independents who want a pragmatic fix to our immigration system.

“Mitt Romney, meanwhile, gambled on trying to win the White House without the Latino vote. He then doubled down on his bet by calling on ‘self-deportation’ of undocumented immigrants and vowing to veto the proposed DREAM Act, ignoring the reality that most Latino voters know someone who is undocumented and that DREAM-eligible kids are likely to be tomorrow’s engineers, scientists, small business owners and political leaders.

“By cynically underestimating the wisdom and power of the Latino vote, the Republican Party will be politically bankrupt in that community for years to come.

“As we congratulate President Obama for winning reelection, we also send him and the new Congress a message: ‘We expect passage of comprehensive immigration reform next year. We don’t want promises; we don’t want debates. We expect action.’

“If Congress keeps erecting roadblocks on this important issue in 2013, we will look elsewhere for leaders in the 2014 elections. Those who act on behalf of the Latino community will be rewarded and those who stand in the way will suffer the consequences at the ballot boxes in 2014.


Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the NationalImmigrationLawCenter:

“Americans have voted for a more inclusive country.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle should finally realize that they can no longer scapegoat Latinos, immigrants, and other voters of color to score cheap political points among the xenophobic segments of our community without paying a price at the ballot box. President Obama, like Harry Reid two years ago, shrewdly recognized that his opponent’s harsh self-deportation policies about aspiring American citizens would only serve to drive Latinos and Asian Americans to vote against extremism.

“As a result, the mandate for President Obama, along with the newly elected members of Congress, should be clear: voters want an immigration system that treats aspiring citizens with dignity, and provides a roadmap for those living and working here to integrate fully into society.

“We fully recognize that one person cannot accomplish immigration reform on his own. We expect President Obama to exert his considerable leadership to replace a system that has for too long shattered Latino and other immigrant families and for Congress to come to the table.  We will no longer tolerate status quo of record deportations and aggressive detention policies, and politicians on both sides of the aisle should recognize that if they adhere to these draconian positions, their political future is at risk. The demographic writing is on the wall: Republicans and Democrats alike should begin working now toward creating an inclusive society in the future, or risk losing the heart of future American voters.”

The Obama Administration has an ambitious agenda, and many of their policies will have a profound effect on immigrants’ lives. Here are a few of the most important issues affecting immigrants today:

– Immigration reform. Though President Obama has reiterated his support for immigration reform to Univision and the Des Moines Register, precious little has been said about how he would achieve such reform. Immigrant families have suffered under record breaking deportations; we must not allow these detention and deportation systems to continue to destroy immigrant communities simply because both parties cannot agree on how best to create a roadmap to citizenship for the men and women who are American in their hearts, if not by their papers.

– Immigrant access to health care. The Obama administration should continue to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in as robust a fashion as possible, and any effort to reform our broken immigration system must protect access to existing affordable care options for newly authorized immigrants. This includes repealing an ill-advised rule excluding young immigrants granted a reprieve from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

– Preventing family separation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents should finally begin adhering to the memos issued by the administration that outline when an individual should be allowed to return to his or her family rather than undergo deportation proceedings. Currently, many individuals who should not be deported under the guidance are banished from the United States, often leaving loved ones and children behind.

– Promoting economic justice for all workers and their families.  Working immigrant families have the most to lose under sequestration budget negotiations that will take place in the coming months.  President Obama and Congress must protect critical safety-net programs, including the Child Tax Credit and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), which help lift millions of families out of poverty each year.

– Promoting a level playing field for all workers. Ensure that abusive employers don’t use immigration status to thwart labor rights or to gain competitive advantage over workers by vigorously enforcing the agreement between the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security to ensure that workplace immigrant apprehension and detention doesn’t undermine labor standards enforcement.

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