Immigration attorney like myself were excited at the opportunities presented by the recent election. Whether you supported Obama or Romney was less important than the growing political power of the Latino community. Immigration reform was a big campaign issue in 2008 for President Barack Obama, and, although it received less attention in the 2012 election, it has gained considerable political momentum. With the number of Latino voters making up 8.7 percent of the electorate, Latinos have gained considerable political power in the past four years. The number of Latino voters has risen by 26 percent to 12.2 million during Obama’s first term, and this trend is expected to continue.
With Latino voters overwhelmingly supportive of the Democratic Party, Republicans fear that any reluctance to immigration reform from their party will only solidify this voting bloc behind the Democrats. For a party that has campaigned the last few years and in many prominent elections as the anti-illegal immigrant party, the Republicans are expected to revisit their immigration stance. This newfound willingness to, at least, debate the many issues of immigration reform should encourage the Latino and other immigrant communities.
There has already been renewed bipartisan action on immigration reform in the days following the election. U.S. Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have renewed their immigration reform discussions that ended two years ago. They discussed stronger security for the U.S.-Mexico border, forge-resistant citizenship documents, streamlining legal immigration for desirable candidates and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
Both parties are likely to support this type of immigration reform due to the increasing political clout of the Latino community. With almost 71 percent of the Latino vote going to President Obama in the 2012 election, which contributed to many key states going to him, both parties are committed to winning the Latino vote. How this will translate into legislative action is unclear at the moment. The Dream Act and Achieve Act have both been proposed in recent years as a blueprint for allowing undocumented immigrants the opportunity to gain legal residency.
Although many Republicans are willing to soften their stance on undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. in order to appeal to immigrant communities, major portions of their party will fight any major revisions of immigration law. GOP leaders like Senator Marco Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham may make headway in the wake of the revolutionary 2012 election, but just how much progress is uncertain.
President Obama and the Democrats are expected to make every effort to win the hearts and minds of Hispanic and minority voters. President Obama made little progress in enacting comprehensive immigration reform in his first term, but he did pass the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals bill which allowed undocumented young people who had entered the U.S. as children to defer deportation for two years. With both political parties seeking the Latino vote for future elections, the time could be ripe for President Obama to successfully sponsor and pass a sweeping reform of immigration.
If you have questions about your legal status or would like to learn what steps you can take to achieve legal residency or citizenship, please feel free to call the Lyttle Law Firm at (512) 215- 5225 for a personal consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.