Under Speaker John Boehner’s leadership, the House of Representatives has voted to overturn each and every one of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and this puts millions of immigrants – men, women, and even children – at risk for deportation.
This does not sit well with many Hispanic-American voters because about 70% of the immigrants affected are Hispanic. To many Hispanic-Americans, Boehner’s actions look like prejudice, and even racism.
No matter how you see it, that’s how many Latinos see it, and the Latino vote is an important factor in determining the outcome of Presidential elections. So by taking an anti-immigration stand, Republicans are alienating Latino voters, and they can’t win the White House without the Latino vote.
Since Latinos are the fastest growing American ethnic group, the Republican stance has long term implications far beyond the 2016 Presidential election.
The last two Republican Presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney both included anti-immigration, pro-deportation stances in their presidential campaigns, and neither of them was able to garner any significant support from Latino voters.
The Latino vote was crucial to Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. Barack Obama won about 71 % of the Hispanic vote, and that was a key factor in Obama being the first president since Dwight Eisenhower (1952 – 1956) to win back to back elections with more than 5 % of the total vote.
In 2012, Mitt Romney’s received only 27% of the Latino vote in 2012, that was the lowest since Senator Bob Dole received only 21% of the Latino vote in 1996. In 2012, Latinos not only helped Obama win in key battleground states, they made up 10% of the electorate nationwide for the first time ever.
The Latino vote is 12.2 million voters strong and growing. If the Republicans continue to alienate 10% of the electorate, they cannot win the White House, no matter who the Democrats nominate.
What is even stranger about the Republican vote in the House to deport men, women and even children, is that it will never become law. Even if it passes in the Senate, President Obama will veto the measure, and the Republicans do not have the votes to override the veto.
So why are the Republicans going out of their way to alienate Latino voters?
According to the Huffington Post, the Republicans have a lock on the House “because of the gerrymandering of districts in 2010 by Republican-controlled legislatures.” So Republican leaders, like Speaker Boehner, think they don’t have to worry about losing control of the House in the near future so they are concentrating on issues dear to older, white voters and to Tea Party voters.While many older, white voters think immigration is a problem, the Tea Party thinks illegal immigration from Latin America is a major issue, and the Tea Party vote can decide Republican primaries.
So moderate conservatives like John Boehner cave into the pressure and push immigration policies that have no chance of being adopted as law.
But it keeps people like Boehner in power, so what does he care if it costs the Republicans any chance of winning the White House. Boehner is never going to run for President, so it’s no skin off his nose.
About the only Republican who has any chance of reversing this trend is Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American junior Senator from Florida. But Marco Rubio isn’t even on the radar as a Presidential candidate, and he might not carry enough Latino votes for the Republicans as the Vice-Presidential candidate.