Immigration is roiling the presidential contest as President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney seek to court the nation’s swelling Hispanic voters, reported the Associated Press. The outcome could influence political battle lines and shape American politics for generations.
“Some Republicans fear – and Democrats hope – that Obama could capitalize on this moment to help solidify Hispanic voters as predominantly Democratic this fall and for years to come, much as President Lyndon Johnson hardened the black vote for Democrats as he pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The stakes are high not only for states with larger Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, but for a growing number of other battlegrounds – Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, among them – where even a modest shift among Latino voters could be significant. The United States’ Latino population surged from about 35 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.”
As the presidential candidates head to the Florida convention, Obama is riding a wave of Latino enthusiasm over his decision to allow hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and work. Under the administration plan, undocumented immigrants can avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.”
Simon Rosenberg, who follows immigration matters as head of the liberal-leaning group NDN, said the president’s move on deferring action for deportation of young immigrants not only helps him energize Latino voters, it also helps cast him as a president willing to take bold steps.
For a Latino community that worried that neither party was doing enough, “they now have a champion,” he said to the Associated Press. But, he added, “There will be a resonance beyond the Latino community.”