Despite the fact that Latinos are now the largest minority group in America, GOP presidential candidates don’t appear to be focusing any effort in gaining their support.
Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry all claim that they strongly oppose granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants already residing in the United States, even though a majority of Americans support a “path to citizenship” and an increasing number support granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants (Pew Research Poll).
However, some of the candidates are being criticized for their more liberal immigration views. For example, Rick Perry signed a bill into law that granted in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants which Mitt Romney equates with granting “amnesty.” Newt Gingrich, also, stated his support for establishing a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for a long period of time and have established family ties which has prompted criticism from his competitors, especially Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Both have since taken more conservative views with regard to immigration.
Furthermore, most of the candidate’s plans for immigration reform policy center around “securing the borders” before establishing any specific plans about the status of undocumented immigrants or enforcement policies. The vague nature of the candidates positions creates problems among all voters as to what their policies may be, if elected.
The Hispanic vote will be a vital constituency in the upcoming election. Due to president Obama’s heavy emphasis on border security and increased deportations, if Republicans took more moderate positions on immigration, they could garner the support of Latinos and independents, but not with the policies they are promoting now. In addition, some Republican presidential candidates support even more conservative stances on specific immigration policies. For example, Newt Gingrich supports a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Michele Bachmann supports the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Latinos and Independents will be two key constituencies that may be dissuaded by these very conservative immigration stances and will be the difference between the winning and losing parties in 2012.
On Election day 2011, President of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce, was officially recalled and replaced by a fellow Republican, Jerry Lewis.
Russell is most known for his sponsorship of Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law, which, according to the Arizona State Legislature, “requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties.”
Arizona’s law has inspired similar legislation across the country, most notably in Alabama, which passed a law in September that has been deemed the strictist law in the nation.
It will be interesting to see what the reprecussions of Pearce’s recall are in Arizona with some of his fellow supporters in Arizona up for reelection in 2012 and if his recall will have reprecussions nationally.
Pearce will be replaced by Jerry Lewis, “a charter school executive who is fluent in Spanish, said he would be more amenable to compromise, on immigration and everything else, than the man he is replacing.” His views on SB1070 and Russell Pearce are:
It is also worth noting that Jerry Lewis is a member of Mesa’s influential Mormon Church. I wonder what effect this will have on the debate over whether the United States can elect a Mormon president, like Mitt Romney.