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Friday, June 29, 2012

June and the 2012 Presidential Campaign

In the past month we have seen two critical decisions for immigration policy.  The first was President Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children and the second was the Supreme Court’s ruling on SB1070. Not only does this mean that it’s time to update my syllabus for my course on immigration policy, but these two decisions could play a major role in determining the pressure for and contours of immigration reform in the next few years.

Of course these actions also have the potential to impact the presidential campaigns of President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. For President Obama, who has been unable to get comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM act passed in Congress, it was a way to address a pressing issue, and hopefully energize Hispanic voters who will are key to his re-election bid. In making the order Obama stated, “They pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper”( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/obama-immigration-order-deportation-dream-act_n_1599658.html ). Governor Romney has taken a tough line on illegal immigration, and has said he disagrees with the court’s ruling on SB1070, “I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to states, not less. And the states, now under this decision, have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration law,” Romney told donors at a fundraiser in Scottsdale (http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2012/06/25/mitt-romney-reacts-to-sb1070-ruling-states-have-right-to-secure-their-borders/).

Immigrant votes have played a role in shifting electoral coalitions through the history of the United States.  In their time, German, Irish, Italian and other ethnic groups used their voting clout to elect politicians who supported more open immigration.  Hispanic voters do not necessarily vote as a block, but they do play a key role in important swing states. It’s clear that President Obama is betting that Hispanic voters will make the difference in at least a few of these states.  Turnout will be key, which possibly underlies GOP efforts to pass voter ID laws in many states.  However, it is clear that the Hispanic vote will play an important role in this election and it is up to the Republican party to find a strategy that will reduce Obama’s commanding lead in the polls with Hispanic voters: (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view/20120628polls_latino_support_surges_for_obama_but_level_of_enthusiasm_is_unclear/)

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