Latino voters came out in unprecedented numbers on Election Day. Over 70 percent of them supported Obama, who has been more open than Republican representatives to comprehensive
overhaul of immigration laws.
In September 2012, during a Univision Forum, Obama confessed that he considered the inability to achieve comprehensive immigration reform to be the biggest failure of his first term, but emphasized that this had not been a result of his lack of effort
Indeed, Obama’s proposed reform has been held up for years due to partisan disagreements. Republicans have particularly stressed that they would block
any immigration reform bill until they ensure that the U.S. borders are secure.
The Latino vote mobilization can be partly explained as a positive response to President Obama’s decision in June 2012 to remove the threat
of deportation for young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and represent low enforcement priorities and to allow them to receive work authorization.
Moreover, Latino voters might have considered President Obama’s declared vision for an improved immigration system as a promising platform for a long-term immigration reform. Obama has stated that the immigration system should focus
on preventing those who would harm the U.S. from entering it, increasing accountability for businesses that undermine American workers and exploit undocumented workers, strengthening economic competitiveness by creating a legal immigration system reflecting American values and needs, and showing responsibility for individuals living in the U.S. illegally.
The 2012 Latino voter turnout seems to have also sent a powerful message to the Republican Party, as some representatives have recognized their party’s failure to attract this group of voters as a reason for Obama’s victory. Some Republican officials, such as Senator Marco Rubio, have acknowledged that the Republican Party has been unable to connect
with the Latinos. Others admit that, without attracting this segment of the population and preventing it from becoming “firmly Democratic
” the Republicans will become unable to enter the White House in the future.
Some Republicans seem already determined to garner Latino support. On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner urged President Obama to improve the enforcement
of immigration law and the prospects of the around 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally and emphasized that it is time to complete the immigration policy reform.
After the President’s re-election, Democratic leaders also seem strongly inclined to pursue the type of reform that eluded
Obama during his first presidential term.
Emphasizing his intention to bring up the immigration reform bill during the upcoming year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stressed
that Republicans will block this legislation at their own risk.
While discussions of an immigration reform bill represent a promising sign, immigration advocates are still anxiously waiting for permanent solutions to be adopted. On Thursday, around 100 people representing
immigrant groups gathered in front of the White House to send their message to the President: “We got your back. Now it’s time for you to have ours.”