Immigration Issue A Big Reason For Obama Victory - Hispanics And Asian Americans Send A Message To The Republicans.

Alan Lee, Esq.

It's time for the Republicans to become realistic and give ground on the immigration issue before it buries their party. Bad bets were laid by the leadership of the GOP that Hispanics and other ethnic minorities would not come out to vote heavily, and that they would be more concerned about the economy than immigration. Wrong bet. Hispanics and Asian-Americans came out heavily in the voting on Tuesday to inform the GOP that they would not be rolling up the welcome carpet of this country to those who would come after them. Exit polls showed that approximately 73% of Asian-Americans voted for President Obama with only 26% for Mr. Romney. The polling also showed that 71% of Hispanics voted for Mr. Obama with 27% for Mr. Romney.

The percentage of Hispanics voting accelerated from 9% in 2008 to 10% in 2012. Asian-Americans went from 2% in 2008 to 3% in 2012. On the other hand, white voters decreased from 74% to 72% and Blacks remained at 13%. The immigration issue was a huge factor in the decision of Hispanics and to a lesser extent Asian-Americans to vote for the President with many citing his accomplishment of deferred action for childhood arrivals while Mr. Romney was saddled by his promise to stop approving such applications upon his becoming president and stances against the DREAM Act, adherence to a policy of "self deportation" for undocumented immigrants, and opposition to comprehensive immigration reform.

The heavy turnout also produced a desired coattail effect by Mr. Obama as the GOP had believed itself in a position to gain control of the Senate, but instead watched with dismay as state after state voted for Democratic senatorial candidates. Especially hopeful for the GOP were the races in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Wisconsin in which Democrats Chris Murphy (CT), Tim Kaine (VA), and Tammy Baldwin (WI) retained their seats and Elizabeth Warren (MA) upended the incumbent Scott Brown.

Hispanics and Asian-Americans turned the tide for the President in the battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Virginia - all states that went into Mr. Obama's win column and paved his return to the White House.

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said it best in August 2012 that the GOP was losing the demographics race badly and that "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long-term." The fastest growing populations in this country are Hispanics and Asians which grew by 43% between 2000 and 2010. The trend in past years with the groups has been increasing political awareness, more of their populations becoming U.S. citizens, and turning out heavily for significant political elections which involve their interests. The future portends more of the same for 2016.

Centrists in the GOP now realize that their past model of tough immigration enforcement is not a sustainable path. The immigration issue means much more to Hispanics and other ethnic minorities that it does to other voting groups. Failure to rein in anti-immigrant fervor condemns the Republicans to a slow death. The party of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush (Bush I) is no more (Mr. Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and Mr. Bush the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1993), shanghaied by Tea Party enthusiasts and other extremists. It is no longer a "Big tent" under which all groups can reside. It needs to reform its agenda immediately, starting with the immigration issue.

This article © 2012 Alan Lee, Esq.

About The Author

Alan Lee, Esq. is a 30+ year practitioner of immigration law based in New York City holding an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. He is also on the Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys, and on the New York Super Lawyers list (2011-2012). He was awarded the Sidney A. Levine prize for best legal writing at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1977 and has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Pakistan Calling, Muhasha and OCS. He has testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings and was recognized by the Taiwan government in 1985 for his work protecting human rights. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004, and his victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case of first impression nationwide, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof. Its value as precedent, however, was short-lived as it was specifically targeted by the Bush Administration in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004.

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