Hispanic voters are not satisfied with the choices in front of them for the 2012 presidential election. They can either support President Obama like they did in 2008, despite being disproportionately hurt by the poor economy, or turn back to the GOP despite growing anti-immigration rhetoric.
President Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 after an eight-year span in which the group largely backed Republican President George W. Bush. However, over the past three years Hispanic voters have grown more dissatisfied with the president they thought would fix the country’s broken immigration policy. Furthermore, many Hispanics are losing their houses and unemployment among the group has reached 11 percent (the national average hovers around 9.2 percent).
Currently, Obama’s job approval rating is at 49 percent among Hispanics, according to Gallup. This is not good news for the president as Hispanics will prove to be an important constituency in prized states like Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.
"I am willing to support him, but I would like him to keep his word on all the promises he made," said Marcos Mata, 17, a Las Vegas high school senior who will vote for the first time next year, according to The Associated Press.
"Not just on immigration. But I don't know if I see any improvement. The jobs act, it's a good idea but he should have been doing that a long time ago."
Republicans see this as an opportunity to seize the influential constituency. But many Hispanics see this as disingenuous, Dee Dee Garcia Blasé, founder of Somos Republicans, told The Christian Post. Somos Republicans is a group based in Arizona, dedicated to bringing more Latinos into the GOP.
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George W. Bush, who won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, approached the immigration issue from a free market and capitalist approach, Blasé noted.
“There was a common drum beat that the U.S. will accept [Hispanic] competitive labor because of the wage rates they work for. Hispanics know that immigration is directly tied to jobs. But now that immigration is a toxic issue, Republicans are messaging a different tune. They are no longer doing what was done under the Bush administration.”
Bush seemed to understand, according to Blasé, that immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy.
According to a CATO study, for every immigrant that works on the farm, there are 3.1 related jobs off the farm available to Americans.
“Without immigrant workers, the most likely scenario is that we would simply produce less agricultural output as a nation,” CATO reported in July. “Eliminating the on-farm jobs would put at risk many more jobs paying middle-class wages and employing native-born American workers.”
Now, however, GOP candidates are careful not to appear “soft” on immigration.
Rick Perry got accused of being lax on immigration due to his Texas DREAM policy that provided in-state college tuition to children of illegal immigrates. As a result, he saw a drop in the polls.
On the other hand, businessman Herman Cain appeared not to be punished in the polls among native conservative voters when he made a controversial comment about wanting to put an electric fence along the southern border.
However, Hispanic voters were appalled.
“A lot of Hispanic Republican voters dropped the GOP and became Independent. They did this to discipline GOP leaders. We need John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and other leaders to denounce this violent rhetoric toward our neighbors,” Blasé said.
“What kind of uproar would there be if disparaging remarks were made against the Jewish community? Or if someone jokes about lynching the African-American community? It hurts,” he pointed out.
“The GOP is on the path to extinction [if they continue to ignore this kind of rhetoric.] Where’s the leadership?”
The Somos Republicans aren’t excited about Mitt Romney, either.
“If Romney gets elected, we are going to shout from mountain top to tell our Hispanic community to write in Ronald Reagan. We feel strongly against Mitt Romney. First of all, he gave an oath to defend a woman’s right to choose. How can you ever trust him that he claims to be pro-life now? Oaths are very serious. It’s a big deal.”
“Secondly, he passed Romneycare. What’s the difference between Romney and Obama?”
Blasé also stated that Romney is taking an “unreasonable approach” to immigration and that it is “disgusting” to Hispanics. “He wants to send all undocumented immigrants back. But they are contributing to the economy, to the tax revenue. So that’s just unreasonable. Mitt Romney is out of the question.”
Rick Perry seems to be a favorite among Hispanics, although his support is declining. In 2010, Somos Republicans named Perry the number one Hispanic-friendly politician in the nation.
“When asked about the harsh Arizona anti-immigration law, Governor Rick Perry said such a law 'would not be the right direction for Texas' and would distract law enforcement from fighting other crimes,'" the website cited as a major reason for granting this award to Perry. However, many Hispanics have since down-graded Perry after he called the federal DREAM Act a law providing for “amnesty” and refused to support it.
When asked who the Hispanic voters would be satisfied with, Blasé immediately said, “Ronald Reagan.”
“Reagan was instrumental in the growth of Latino voting. He gave amnesty. That was a blessing. He was Christ-like in how we are supposed to treat our neighbors. He didn’t view our trade partner as a threat. He knew that a good relationship with neighbors provides for healthy national security.”
Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act signed by Reagan in 1986, approximately 3 million unauthorized immigrants received amnesty.