A report released this month by America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy group, argues that swiftly growing Latino constituent populations across the country may soon pressure Republicans to drop inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric.
The report predicts which states will gain seats as a result of the 2010 Census due mostly to the tremendous growth of their Latino populations: Texas (+4), Arizona (+2), Florida (+1), Georgia (+1), Nevada (+1), Oregon (+1), South Carolina (+1), and Utah (+1). (Those tallies assume that a proposed Census boycott by Latinos doesn’t take place.)
The report points out that many of these states, ironically, are red ones:
The states likely to gain political power following the 2010 Census are currently largely Republican-dominated at both the Congressional and state levels, and in many cases will owe this expanded power to Latinos who moved to their states over the last several years. Ironically, many members of the delegations who will benefit from the increase in Latino population have embraced policies that are hostile to Latinos and immigrants. It will be interesting to see how the 2010 Census impacts politicians’ attitudes toward immigrants and Latinos who helped them expand their power in Congress.
But what percentage of those Latino populations represents legal citizens eligible to vote? Well, the report points out that Latino voter registration and turnout also grew tremendously between 2000 and 2008—54 percent and 64 percent, respectively. And as that voter base grows, politicians may find themselves in a different electoral climate:
As this demographic continues to grow, politicians who ignore or demonize the Latino population in their states will find the road to re-election much more difficult.
In Colorado, where the percentage of Hispanic voters went from 8 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2008, Latinos in favor of comprehensive immigration reform are already organizing to demand that politicians pay attention to the issue.
Just last night, for example, Coloradans held parties in 22 houses across the state to listen to Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, Congressman Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona and Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, D-New York speak about the comprehensive immigration reform legislation Gutierrez expects to introduce shortly.
Are you listening, would-be governor Tom Tancredo?