Neither Party Has Yet to Realize the Full Potential of the Latino Vote

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More than 12 million Latinos voted in the 2012 election, but another 11 million voter-eligible Latinos stayed home.
More than 12 million Latinos voted in the 2012 election, but another 11 million voter-eligible Latinos stayed home.

There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes talk with immigrant advocates and the Obama administration about the long-promised executive order on immigration. At this point, we know that there will be no executive order before the election. It is also unlikely that an executive order will be issued in the immediate aftermath of the voting. Analysts tell me that early December is the most likely time for Obama to act.

President Barack Obama insists that there is a chance for a broader immigration reform from Congress in 2015 or 2016. He told an audience last Thursday, “It’s anybody’s guess how Republicans are thinking about this, if they were thinking long-term politically, it is suicide for them not to do this.”

The problem is that this is all speculation. Immigrants are no longer trying to figure out what Republicans will do after the elections; they want to know what the president has planned.

At a panel last month on the emerging Latino electorate, Clarissa Martinez de Castro of the National Council of La Raza said that while 12.2 million Latinos came out to vote in 2012, another 11.1 million voter-eligible Latinos stayed home. This means that as much as Latinos have been a force in the last three election cycles, they could be even more powerful if one of the parties adopted policies designed to mobilize them. Unfortunately, some new citizens say that the parties are not really competing for their votes.

Sixty-eight percent of Latinos get their news daily or weekly from Spanish-language news sources. This means that even among Latinos who may not have an immediate stake in the immigration reform debate hear about it every day in the Spanish media. It is not a secondary issue for them. It plays an important role both in how they vote and in whether they decide to vote at all. A plan for reform from Boehner or a preview of an executive order from Obama would ripple through the Latino electorate.


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