GOP Busily Locking Down the Latino Vote

…for the Democrats.

…for the Democrats.

1)  Senate Republicans are planning a big push against the DREAM Act, because it’s extremely important to deny citizenship to college students and soldiers;

2)  Idaho Republicans are working on replicating SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law, in their state; and

3)  House Republicans will begin their new majority to repeal the 14th Amendment and deny “birthright citizenship” to children born in the United States.

The Pacific and Mountain West contained some of the few bright spots for the Democrats in the midterms, with Patty Murray, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, and Michael Bennet all pulling through, relatively small losses of House seats, capturing the California Governorship and retaining the Colorado governorship.  And this was in large part due to the Latino vote.

Keep at it, guys: you had a good midterm during the worst recession in 70 years, but in a couple of decades, you’ll have Idaho, Utah, and the Confederacy.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

23 thoughts on “GOP Busily Locking Down the Latino Vote”

  1. I wonder how this stuff will play in states where Republicans get a larger than normal amount of Hispanic support, like Texas or Arizona. Surely, there will be some Hispanics that always vote for Republicans, just as there some blacks that do the same–and it will still be a sizable number, too. But will the current level of support that someone like John Cornyn or Kay Bailey Hutchinson change at all, not because of anything they do, but because of the party with which they are affiliated? And if the Republicans do give the Democrats an opening in a state like Texas or a chance to widen their advantage in a state like New Mexico or Colorado, will the Democrats have the resources or smarts to help themselves?

    I make this sort of comment in a variety of contexts, but it certainly applies here. If Obama isn't fighting for his life in 2012, and he retains a significant fund raising strength, I hope he goes into the election with an expansive mindset. If he can afford it (more on that below), I'd like to see him set up a comprehensive campaign in Arizona and Georgia for sure, but also perhaps Montana, the Dakotas, and even Texas. It's questionable how he could make a state like Texas competitive, but there are a lot of people there that don't vote even though they are registered and a few million more who aren't even registered. The latter group includes lots of blacks and Hispanics. Perhaps, with enough work, we could make not only the presidential race competitive, but also more House races and the Senate race, particularly if Hutchinson is Teabagged. If nothing else, he'd force Republicans to spend crucial dollars there and set up a structure for the future.

    Expanding the map into states like Texas, but also Georgia, which supposedly isn't cheap, would be expensive, but if he's not fighting for his life, he'll probably have no issue raising a lot of money. It might seem like a stretch to say this, but his fund raising potential is basically limitless. If about half of his donors from last time gave $1000 to his campaign, which is less than half of the legal limit, he'd have about $1 billion. That's way more than he could ever realistically spend unless he was spending millions in every single state. If he wanted to get started on voter registration drives, for instance, in the beginning of 2012, he could probably finance a lot of work in a day or two. If just 100,000 of his donors gave $50 to finance stuff like that, he'd have $5 million.

    So if it's got some money to throw down, I hope he uses it to help them dig their electoral graves.

  2. Brian J,

    I am afraid I still see Obama through the prism of "Never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity". He has a year or so to snap out of his passivity or it will be permanently stuck to him.

  3. According to polls the story is actually rather mixed. On the one hand, although latinos are actually *split* in their opinion of illegal immigration, pretty much everybody ELSE is dead set against it, at supermajority levels in polls.

    So, as unpopular as opposing illegal immigration might be among liberals, it's quite the winner across most of the country.

  4. Jonathan Zasloff is an optimist. For Republicans, that is. They won't even keep the Confederacy. Virginia and North Carolina–late joiners of the Confederacy–are already peeling away. And Texas has an enormous Latino vote. And I'm not even sure about Utah. Mormons are pragmatists, and won't forever want to be associated with the losing side. Idaho and Alassippi–okay, I'll concede them.

    Brett,

    You've flunked Politics 101. If there's an issue in which 15% of the population feels strongly, and 85% doesn't, the 15% will win, even if the 85% tends to feel the other way. Such as your beloved right to guns. Latinos are really beginning to despise the Republican Party.

  5. "If there’s an issue in which 15% of the population feels strongly, and 85% doesn’t, the 15% will win, even if the 85% tends to feel the other way."

    I quite agree. I just don't think immigration is such an issue. It's more like an issue where 85% feel the other way, but haven't been getting their way because the 15% tend to be politicians. There's quite a bit of anger about it, it's just having trouble getting traction due to the difficulty of finding anybody you can elect who won't immediately betray you on the issue.

  6. I don't see it as a big problem, perhaps not even a problem worth fixing, but I don't understand why a child born in the US to someone in the country illegally (or here on vacation, or to go to school) should automatically be a US citizen. I'd be surprised if many other countries are so free with citizenship.

  7. Ted, that's a question earnestly asked in the 1850s, when [gasp] Catholics were immigrating in hordes, and again at the turn of the last century, when people from southern Europe, and Slavic countries were coming. What indeed was left of the US after 1855?

    It's pretty rich, this Thanksgiving season, for any of us of European descent to complain about the changes that immigration brings.

  8. Brett,

    Okay, you pass Politics 101. You only flunk History 101. Nativism has gone in waves, generally associated with bad economic times. When the economy perks up, the nativism will go down, in both numbers and intensity. Since Jonathan was talking about the long-term future of the Republican Party, I think we can assume that the economy will eventually perk up. It always has–and was particularly perky back when Ike was charging a 91% top marginal rate. Unless, of course, the Republicans succeed in their economic sabotage. Then we will be perpetually immiserated, and perpetually nativist. Which will keep the Republicans in perpetual power. Which, after all, is their goal.

  9. Larry Roberts says:

    "I don’t see it as a big problem, perhaps not even a problem worth fixing, but I don’t understand why a child born in the US to someone in the country illegally (or here on vacation, or to go to school) should automatically be a US citizen. I’d be surprised if many other countries are so free with citizenship."

    The 14th Amendment. Like it or lump it.

  10. Latinos in Florida vote Republican because they are Cuban-Americans and Republicans are reliably nastier to Castro. But Fidel will die and the sugar-cane wall wil come down. (Judging from Eastern Europe, the expectation sof the exiles for power and staus in the postcommunist society will be disappointed, but that´s another story). At that point, Cuban-Americans will have no more reason to vote Republican.

  11. Larry,

    I don’t understand why a child born in the US to someone in the country illegally (or here on vacation, or to go to school) should automatically be a US citizen.

    Why not?

    Consider a child born in the US to parents of whatever status, from illegal immigrants to citizens. On what basis do you draw the line between a child who should get citizenship and one who should not?

  12. You should be careful of what you wish for. How would you like to have to prove your citizenship wherever you go in order for your child to prove their citizenship? Basically, if you have any bias against national identity cards, you will have to give that up because this kind of rule can't work without one. Imagine Real ID on steroids.

  13. Latinos are going to vote majority Dem in any plausible future, so the long-term game is just about what portion of the electorate they make up.

  14. James Wimberley:

    You're basically right about Republicans in Florida getting the Hispanic vote, although supposedly younger Cubans are much more open to voting for Democrats.

    I actually find it kind of amusing when people assume that Hispanics will automatically vote for someone because they are Hispanic, which is what people seem to assume, among other things, when they talk up Marco Rubio. I doubt he would hurt the Republicans, but there's no particular guarantee that he would help them win enough to get beyond their usual 30 to 35 percent to really hurt the Democrats. Susanna Martinez and Brian Sandoval, Republican governors-elect of New Mexico and Nevada, lost the Hispanic vote in their states. And even Rubio, while doing pretty well, didn't crack 50 percent. He only got 45 percent. Normally, that would be a troubling number for Democrats, but I chalk that up to Rubio being Cuban and Cubans usually voting Republican–in other words, it made a difference on the margins.

    Brent Bellmore:

    I don't doubt that lots of people oppose illegal immigration, in the same way that lots of people oppose others cheating on their taxes. But I'd bet a lot of money that people are much more nuanced on their views and wouldn't be reflexively opposed to legislation that does something other than basically closing the border entirely, even in states that are directly affected by it–i.e. ramping up enforcement but also establishing a guest worker program.

    And that's where the Republicans will begin to face real problems: by occupying only the extreme of their side, they allow the Democrats to occupy the extreme of their side but also the middle. It's entirely possible for a Democrat to oppose policies like SB-1070 or anything similar but want to do something else to make sure it's not a free for all. That would satisfy, or at least not anger, their base but also make them look reasonable to those outside of their base.

  15. There seems to be a presumption on the part of some that a child born to illegals will be a drag on society. Barring their citizenship status, most illegals are law-abiding, family-centered, even tax-paying folks. Their children are likely to inherit these values. What's the problem?

    We have real problems before us that need addressing; this is not one of them.

  16. "On the one hand, although latinos are actually *split* in their opinion of illegal immigration, pretty much everybody ELSE is dead set against it, at supermajority levels in polls."

    Except repealing the 14th amendment has nothing to do with illegal immigration. FAIL.

  17. in a couple of decades, you’ll have Idaho, Utah, and [the most intransigent parts of] the Confederacy.

    …and Wyoming. Which they are more than welcome to.

  18. Thanks CharleyCarp for your comment:

    "Larry, it’s because our country is based on an idea, not on a tribal identity.

    That and English common law. See Wong Kim Ark and, if you can get through it, Calvin’s Case."

    I did look at the Wong Kim Ark decision and also found the Wikipedia article on "jus soli" (as opposed to "jus sanguinus") interesting.

    It's still not clear to me that all persons born here should be citizens as a matter of basic human rights, or that it's in the national interest to make them citizens, but I have a better understanding of the history behind our law.

  19. "Except repealing the 14th amendment has nothing to do with illegal immigration. FAIL."

    Indeed, epic. A failure of the imagination, a failure to engage with what people are actually proposing, a failure to listen to their reasoning. An epic failure on all counts. And you even admitted to it!

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