OKLAHOMA CITY, August 28, 2013 — “Young,” “growing,” and “bound to make a political statement” are terms that best describe the growing young Hispanic population in the U.S.
There is no secret plan by Hispanic mothers to have as many children as possible to benefit from government programs. The political rhetoric of “send them back” won’t help when the children of undocumented parents vote in the upcoming elections.
The GOP will have a hard time winning the votes of young Hispanics if they can’t find a way to unite behind immigration reform that doesn’t treat Hispanics like the enemy. Hispanics will flock to a Democratic Party that welcomes immigration reform with open arms.
One factor hurting the Republican Party with young Hispanic voters is the Tea Party movement, whose supporters won’t negotiate on immigration reform. Democrats and the media have successfully linked the Tea Party in popular perception to the GOP on immigration, and they will continue to use that connection to bash Republicans.
In spite of the Tea Party, Senator Marco Rubio took the initiative to lead on immigration reform in a comprehensive manner that speaks better to Hispanic voters. The bill he helped create is similar to legislation Senator John McCain tried pushing back in 2006.
If there is anything that should be learned from the 2008 and 2012 Presidential election, it is that Hispanic voters often cast their votes based on how their communities and families will be affected by immigration policy.
The Democratic Party will continue to push a cynical campaign of openness to normalizing the status of undocumented immigrants, when in reality it is mainly interested in creating a wedge between the Republican Party and Hispanic voters for generations. To this end it has worked hard to ensure that voters perceive the Tea Party positions as core Republican positions.
Young Hispanic voters will be key in the upcoming elections in Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina. The Republican Party can reach out to them without sacrificing the Party goals and stay close to its ideals.
One key step will be to reach out to young Hispanic voters by approaching immigration reform as a win-win proposition that can both benefit potential Hispanic immigrants and secure the borders. Another will be to help Hispanic students who were brought into this country illegally to become U.S. citizens without treating them retroactively as infant criminals, opening a process that gives them a path to remaining here if they wish. Yet another would be to find the voices that connect to young Hispanics.
In 2008, Daddy Yankee, award winning international music artist, made major headlines by supporting Senator John McCain for President. There need to be more individuals such as Daddy Yankee who can reach out to young Hispanics and let them know that there is nothing wrong with being a Republican. Will the Republican Party continue to close its arms to the young Hispanic voter or will an open arm ready to lead the future be offered?