Border Wars: The Impact of Immigration on the Latino Vote

Americas Majority Foundation Border Wars

The Americas Majority Foundation has released the results of a study that involved 145 precincts and 175,000 votes. Americas Majority Foundation analyzed actual vote shifts in Hispanic portions of six congressional districts in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

The study found that in Latino areas where candidates advocated a variant of “enforcement only”, support for Republicans dropped by more than 21 percent over a single cycle. Support for Democrats rose by an equivalent amount. However, where Republican candidates supported comprehensive immigration reform (some combination of guest-worker programs and earned legalization) was a lot different. In that case, the Republicans lost roughly four percent and Democrats gained four percent.

According to the Americas Majority Foundation, border security is not the key issue affecting the Latino vote.

“There are nine congressional districts bordering Mexico,” said Americas Majority Foundation (A.M.F.) research analyst Richard Nadler. “Bush carried five in 2004, and Kerry, four. The congressmen from these districts all advocate stiffer border controls. The problems associated with open borders are their constituents’ problems – drug smuggling, human trafficking, crime and overburdened social networks. A congressman can support rigorous measures — a border fence, electronic surveillance, increased Border Patrol, workplace ID, expedited deportation for major crime – all without prejudicing his ability to attract Latino votes. But when a politician heads into the murky territory of mass deportations, or rejection of guest worker programs, or criminalization of the civil infractions of undocumented work, the political penalty he pays among Latinos is harsh and prompt.

According to the Americas Majority Foundation study, policies that induce mass fear in illegal aliens induce mass anger in legal aliens. The Americas Majority Foundation says that the moral hazard associated with decades of non-enforcement of immigration laws becomes explicit with ‘enforcement-only.’ Ties of family, culture, and a shared media communicate the fears of the group directly threatened – the illegals – to other Latinos who are not.

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