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July 5, 2015

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Letter from Washington:

Obama’s new immigration policy boosts enthusiasm, not necessarily new voters

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President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children will soon be eligible for temporary work visas instead of being deported earned him praise from Latino leaders and a noticeable boost in the polls.

So far, though, it’s hard to tell if Obama’s new policy will spur Hispanics to get out and vote.

Voter registration is an important gauge of pre-election enthusiasm, especially when it comes to the Latino community. In recent elections, the swing bloc has wielded considerable force in battleground states such as Nevada by virtue of its ever-growing size.

National organizers for the National Council of La Raza, in Las Vegas for their annual conference this weekend, and other nonpartisan Latino advocacy groups have high hopes of continuing the recent trend of increasing “historical turnouts.” They say they’ve registered 35,000 would-be voters across the country, many of whom responded to Obama’s policy shift.

But in Nevada, efforts aren’t far enough along to judge the effect of the new policy.

“It’s very difficult to measure just exactly how much impact it has had,” said Fernando Romero, director of Hispanics in Politics and a regional representative for NCLR. “Yes, there is enormous enthusiasm. But we still need to see what will come out in the details. At that point, I think, we can really tell if there has been an increase in the voter registration.”

Part of his reasoning is based on numbers. According to political campaigns director Rafael Collazo, NCLR has registered fewer than 2,500 Latino voters in Nevada. The organization took from mid-May to mid-June off to regroup, making comparisons difficult.

Mi Familia Vota, an organization exclusively dedicated to citizenship and voter registration, has registered about 7,000 in Nevada, state director Leo Murrieta said. But the increase since Obama’s announcement was modest. It registered about 1,550 voters in May and about 1,800 in June.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Murrietta said, explaining that even a bump of 250 is something to celebrate before September, when there’s a big push that coincides with a national voter registration day. “There’s going to be excitement as we get closer to the election.”

Even then, fewer organizations will be operating than in years past.

The Hispanic Institute, which registered more than 10,000 Nevada Latinos in 2010, decided to sit this cycle out, and won’t change its mind for one presidential declaration.

“It’s tough for us, organizationally, to put a message out there,” director Gus West said.

He said it’s difficult to mobilize voters around the immigration records of either Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. That wasn’t the case with Sen. Harry Reid in 2010.

“It was an easier time for us to be involved in that race than it is now,” West said.

Representatives of local chapters of the Culinary Union and the Service Employees International Union, both of which were involved in voter registration efforts in the past, did not return requests for comment for this article.

With just four months left until Election Day, both parties have considerable ground to make up. Until his announcement, Obama saw slumping support in the Hispanic voting bloc, which had turned out strong for him in 2008. Republicans have yet to show that their efforts to build up the party’s profile in Hispanic circles have succeeded.

If campaigns are looking for any political indications in the modest crop of new voters, they likely won’t find them.

“They’re not coming out strong for Democrats, they’re not coming out strong for Republicans,” Murrieta said. “As we get closer to the election, people are going to start paying more attention.”

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  1. This usurption of Congressional authority is a two-edged sword. I have no problem with giving some slack to those whose parents chose to flaunt the laws of the United States and come here illegally, but if Osama Obama wanted to do the right thing, he would have asked Congress to pass the "quasi-amnesty." After all, the President of the United States, up to now, is not been an Emperor, King or dictator. Osama Obama has seen fit, through his illegal edicts, to change that. However, come this November we can also change that: Vote Mitt!

  2. Yes, I am an illegal. I want to apply for a temporary work permit. I want to fill out all those papers, hire an attorney and get all my background information out there on a Fed Form. I am assured that after 2 years I can refile and stay at my family residence. With my work permit in hand, I can vote? Mr. President, do you honestly think the Latino community is this stupid? (They must be, like other things in his life, evolution comes from a young politician that voted "present" on everything, including his 4 year term as POTUS.)
    I will call on this Congress to enact a bill that would give a permanent pathway to citizenship for these youngsters. It can be done. You see the hornets nest open up? Why, if I were the President, would I only give them a "temporary work visa" instead of declaring full citizenship after two years, with conditions I can live with. (It is already a complete negative on your administration.) I will answer it, you need their vote next time as well. They are just pawns on the big chess board.

  3. We don't need immigration reform. We NEED to enforce our laws. Enforcing sanctions on employers of illegals will go a long way to expel 15 million illegal invaders and anchor babies. We accept about a million a year in LEGAL immigration. Notice the POTUS swearing in new citizens from the military--we already have a path to citizenship. And, citizens are the voters unless SCOTUS allows illegals to vote. Until then, keep packing and keep walking south because there will be NO AMNESTY of any kind. Sooner or later we will get a President who honors the oath, the constitution, and our laws.

  4. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  5. The United States of America HAS a path to citizenship in place and the few who are truly worthy of US citizenship, use it!!!

    All others, should they refuse to take that path of US citizenship, should be prosecuted, processed, and shown the door out. To be here ILLEGALLY, is to be here CRIMINALLY. President Obama has offered some relief for the illegal and innocent young people brought here by their criminal, yet well-meaning parents. These individuals should take advantage of those 2 years to apply for citizenship. There exists a right way to enter the USA, and everyone outside the USA needs to, by USA law, use it! These laws were put into place over a hundred years ago by We the People, please respect us and our American laws.

    This sounds harsh, but I am a granddaughter of emmigrants who came to the USA legally, who became productive US citizens, and settled here legally. It doesn't matter WHO is President of the USA, these illegal youth need relief, and justly should receive it in some form. The laws and policies on immigration need to be enforced, and E-Verify must be used by ALL employers here in the USA, and any off-shore affiliates who are hiring those in the USA (yeah, I am thinking their attorneys have already found a loophole by entrusting an off-shore agent to hire). Our country will continue its decline until we put an effective lid on illegal immigration. Just fix the system that is too slow on processing citizenship, and enforce the laws. NO amnesty. If any of us USA citizens went to another country, we must go there legally, so no more double standards here in the USA. THAT is criminal and should be prosecuted.

    Slavery is alive and well here in the USA today. It comes in the form of FEAR. Those who are here in the USA illegally, are held here in the bondage of fear, and it is time to abolish slavery on this level in our society.

    Blessings and Peace,

  6. TomD: so nice to see another rational mind out there. Who made us responsible and financially pressed to correct every wrong or mistake someone else made? As much as the dependent class wants to cry for more, do they think there is enough to share it with every unhappy person on the planet? How about supporting the workers and taxpayers for a change? Ya think the economy is telling us something? If we do not enable our economy and our nation to survive, there's not going to be anything for the whiners to demand. And another poster pointed out, it doesn't matter if you can con the majority of voters into your position, many things are rights and cannot be subverted by your vote.

  7. Your not going to get Immigration Reform and a clear pathway to citizenship from either house in Congress or in the White House. Democrats have had 2 years out of the last 12 is all they have had to try to get things done past an obstructionist Republican Party whose soul purpose has been to derail recovery and reforms. Republicans opposed the 'Dream Act' and they sided with Arizona's racist profiling immigration law (a former Hispanic AZ Governor was detained by AZ law enforcement based strictly on how he looked). So will Hispanics register to vote and vote Democrats? I hope so and I think they will do so in record numbers if they are serious about getting anything done on immigration and the Dream Act And that means voting for Shelly Berkely and John Oceguera as well. Heck and Heller both opposed the Dream Act...