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DATE: August 12, 2014
FR: Eric Gray
Re: Latino voting patterns
Republicans drafted a self-described ‘autopsy report’ after Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to become more
competitive in future presidential contests. This report contained the warning that “if Hispanic
Americans perceive a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States, they will not
pay attention to our next sentence.”

Since that stark admission, immigration reform has been debated- a few bills have actually passed one
house of Congress- but nothing has become law. The reason? Republicans don’t trust that Latinos would
vote for their candidates. After all, they insist, Obama carried the Hispanic vote by 71% in 2012.
Hispanics always vote for democrats anyway, so why bother?

However, voting patterns show that Latino support for either party is not assured.

Most of the immigrants coming to the US from the southern border have strongly conservative views.
Many have been raised as devout Catholics. Progressive ideas such as birth control, abortion and same-
sex marriage are objectionable, particularly to those involved in the Catholic Church in Mexico and other
Central American locales. Many immigrants arrive at our border predisposed to the Republican Party.

But they soon realize that they will never become citizens. The roadblocks are too great to overcome.
Conservative politicians insist that Latinos are not wanted; immigrants are characterized as parasites in
the very land they choose to embrace. In some cases, laws are passed to punish those employers that
might hire them. If they do work, immigrants pay additional taxes for benefits that go only to citizens
and into a Social Security system from which they can never collect.

In 2010, it was estimated that illegal immigrants contributed $12 billion to the Social Security trust fund-
money put aside for the retirement of legal US citizens only.

When faced with this hostility, it is reasonable- even expected- that immigrants might jump ship to
embrace a different political philosophy. Like the band Everclear once said, they discover that the hand
they hold is the hand that holds them down.

However, not all Latinos are politically alike. One Hispanic group continues to be a reliable voting bloc
for GOP candidates. That group? Cuban immigrants that arrived in the Florida area in the 70’s-80’s.

It’s instructive that this is the only recent Hispanic immigrants that were embraced by the prevailing
political winds. The Immigration Reform and Control Act, touted as a ‘get tough’ policy for illegal
immigration, contained a provision for citizenship to those who had arrived in the US prior to 1982.

By embracing these people, President Reagan kept Florida solid for Republicans in five of the eight
subsequent presidential elections. Former Cuban residents in Florida’s Dade County remain concrete in
their conservative beliefs, in part, because they were welcomed instead of scorned.

The GOP could follow the Gipper’s lead and become a stronger national party. They could adopt
measures that strengthen border security while providing a path to citizenship for those who were born
here. They could get tough and get realistic, all in one swoop.

It would reclaim the moral high ground. It would add votes for their candidates. It would stop the
defection of Catholic and fundamentalist Latinos from the Republican Party. It would make Marco Rubio
and Ted Cruz into the front-runners for the 2016 presidential nod.

As people, countries, and political parties mature, it’s necessary for them to cast off worn-out ideas and
childish endeavors. Being anti-immigrant is not just anti-American, it’s anti-business. It’s anti-progress.

And, it’s anti-successful.

There’s a reason you can’t buy a buggy whip at a local retailer, or why telegrams are no longer in public
use. These items passed their useful time.

If Republicans don’t adapt, they’ll become the Crystal Pepsi of political parties.