Editor's note: The next Latino in America documentary focuses on Latino voters and airs in October 2012. Follow @cnnlia for more updates on other Latino in America stories.
By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
(CNN) - If there was still any doubt about Mitt Romney's position on immigration, it was erased last Thursday during the CNN Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona.
The former Michigan governor referred to Arizona's controversial HB1070 law as "a model" for the nation. The initiative approved in 2010 that cracks down on illegal immigration has been denounced by Hispanic and immigration rights groups as extreme.
Romney also said that "the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona ... I'll also complete the (border) fence. I'll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence and I'll make sure we have an (employment eligibility federal database) E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers."
Hispanic voters won't decide Tuesday's primaries in Arizona and Michigan, because few are registered as Republicans in those states; but it will be an entirely different story during the November presidential elections.
Arizona's Hispanic voters could give the candidate of either party enough of a margin to win the state in November. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Arizona has 766,000 eligible Hispanic voters, close to 20% of all eligible voters in the Grand Canyon state.
Making statements that can be perceived as anti-immigrant is risky, according to Jennifer Sevilla-Korn, the executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network, a center-right advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
"Tone and rhetoric absolutely matter, because the use of language that can be perceived as inflammatory turns the Hispanic community off even if they agree with the candidate on other issues like how to deal with the economy and fiscal responsibility," Sevilla-Korn said.
Mark Lopez, associate director at the Pew Hispanic Center, said, "Latinos have played a growing and important role in the nation's presidential elections over the last few election cycles. There are now more than 21 million Hispanics who are eligible to vote, and Latinos reside in some key states."
According to the U.S. Census, in the 2008 presidential election, Latinos represented 13% of all voters in Colorado, 14% in Nevada, 15% in Florida, and 38% in New Mexico. Those four states will likely be swing states again in 2012. "Even the participation rate among Hispanics in presidential elections has been growing" in those states, says Lopez.
In 2004, former President George W. Bush won more than 40% of the Latino vote. Four years later, 67% of Hispanic voters went for Barack Obama. Experts say anybody getting that kind of support from Latinos next year, whether Democrat or Republican, has a good chance of winning the presidency.
Florida-based political analyst Charles Garcia says he's confident Latino voters will decide the U.S. presidential election in 2012. He points to states like North Carolina, where the number of registered Hispanic voters has almost doubled to more than 130,000 since the last presidential election.
"President Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by 14,000 votes," Garcia said. "In 2008 there were 68,000 registered Latino voters and a whopping 84% of them participated in the election."
According to research done by the CNN Political Team, based on U.S. Census figures there will be 15 swing states in the 2012 presidential elections: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In a tight race, Garcia said, Hispanic voters could be the margin of victory in 12 of the 15 swing states. The reason? The number of eligible Latino voters in those states has grown by more than 700,000 in the last four years.
"So the important message for the Latino community that's living in one of these 15 swing states is 'Get off your couch and go register to vote because you're going to determine the next election' - and that's powerful," Garcia said.
On the Democratic side, Garcia points out, President Obama hasn't delivered on a promise he made while campaigning: comprehensive immigration reform.
"What he's done is he has deported 400,000 immigrants a year - a total of 1.2 million so far - and he hasn't delivered on the Dream Act," Garcia said. The Dream Act is a bill that would give a path towards citizenship to undocumented young people attending college or serving in the armed forces.
As the GOP primaries play out and as the focus shifts toward the general election in November, Latino voters likely will find themselves more and more the focus of candidates' attention in those key swing states. Which candidate will get those voters' attention in the polling booth is a question that will be answered in the weeks and months ahead.
This whole thing is racist.
HISPANIC GUY HERE AND A DEMOCRAT VOTING FOR RODNEY–OR–SANTORUM.
I have been talking about this for over 3 years now maybe longer. The GOP has made a clear choice here in spite of the record number of deportations by Obama and the fact that he lied about CIR. He rolled out the red carpet for the GOP to steal this issue and instead they not only squandered it, but they damn near took that same red carpet and rolled in right into the Democrats tent for Latinos to walk in for the next generation. I have spent ridiculous amounts of time arguing on behalf of Republican values to many of my minority friends in hopes of convincing them that the values of the GOP are better aligned with many Latino and African Americans who tend to be more religious than Caucasians. But the GOP blew it with their hateful rhetoric towards Latinos. I will no longer defend the GOP. Ronald Reagan is turning over in his grave because of the hate that is being displayed in today's GOP. Reagan and Bush I and Bush II were all immigrant friendly until FOX news, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly decided that hate was better than love and compassion when it came to immigrants. They used the evils of 9/11 to scare Americans into thinking that Islamist fundamentalist and Jihadist were going to send suicide bombers over the Mexican border into America and kill Americans. Mitt Romney even repeated that ridiculous notion just last week. How pathetic especially when you consider we have never arrested one single Islamic Terrorist at any border crossing with Mexico. The GOP is done as a Party, so it is my hope that there will be a new 3rd Party that emerges, perhaps the Libertarian Party to close the gap and then we can actually get some REAL CHANGE in DC, not the bogus crap that Obama promised but never delivered. Gary Johnson all the way!
Democrats have a racist history. I see nothing has changed,
PLease explain your comment. I;m willing to listen, but throwing bombs only gets attention, not respect.
ILLEGALS SHOULD BE DEPORTED PERIOD, NO QUESTIONS ASK..I'M A HISPANIC LEGAL CITIZEN, I SUPPORT ARIZONA IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT...TERRORISTS ARE COMING IN FROM THE MEXICO BORDER.
Latino and Hispanic are very similar. The cdeferfnie is that Latino describes all people in the Americas that have descended from a group of people that spoke a romance language(which root from latin). That categorizes french, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. Hispanic today describes people descended from those who are spanish speaking in the americas. In reality it is suppose to categorize people from Hispania(Iberian Peninsula). Spanish categorizes people with Spanish citizenship. They are also called Spaniards. Also many of the other answerers are incorrect in saying they are similar in race. Most Spanish are white while Hispanics and Latinos are racially diverse. They could be Amerindian(Native American), Mestizo(White and Native American, Mulatto(White and Black), fully white(either from spanish or other europeans), or a mixture between these. None of the terms describe a race. Latino and Hispanic describe an ethnicity, while Spanish describes a nationality.
No No No
The Jobo vote will rule in swing states
Obamo will finally experience no jobo himself.
Latinos must be nice to be able to be home so you can vote in the meantime American truckers are out here miles from home gettin denied that right because they cant get home on a weekday so everyone else has their needs covered meanwhile our rights get run over by the government
Truck IT UP,
Americans encompasses Latinos, as we are talking about those that CAN vote, hence, American Citizens.
That said, there are MANY Latino truck drivers, too.
Not sure if you can, but is a mail ballot possible for people in a similar situation? As a student that won't be here for the election, I have an option to mail my ballot from across the globe. Perhaps you can investigate that option, too.
Your arguments would fall on deaf ears. I think he's only showing his colors. THings like absentee ballots and early voting are logical arguments that many ignore because it doesn't fit their carefully constructed view to blame what they fear.
Please ! If you want to become a Citizen there is a process already in place. All you have to do is use it. Otherwise return to Latino land. Most of you if not all are suffering the high cost of living on low wages. The American people have already rejected Amansty. Nothing is going to change after the next election. The people have already spoken. No Amsenty. Adios !!!
Define "Latino Land", please.
Sorry, mate, America is as much my country as it is yours. Citizenship has been granted to me by virtue of my the process that is put in place, of which, is extremely inefficient and needs change, like most other things having to deal with the government. Clearly, your understanding of how to change things and who composes the "American" people is skewed.
I don't have to preach this to you, I'm sure you understand your educational state, or lack thereof, of the Latino voters. There is much more than "Amnesty".
Like I said in an earlier post, it's people like yourself, with limited thought ability, that hinder the process of change and progress for humanity as a whole.
Cheers, mate, and thanks for such "wise" words. You truly represent what is wrong with this country. Congratulations.
The word Latino was used up above so I assume it is a good word. Isn't it nice that illegals can come here and enjoy a nice place to work and live without doing all the hard work that the Pilgrems did so long ago. When my ancesters came here, before the revolution, there was no great big country waiting for them. If they wanted it done they had to do it themselves. And in the process a Constututoin was written and laws passed. And a process was put in place for immagrants to come and fit in. But you want a shortcut thru the system ! Sorry, no shortcuts. My ancesters had no shortcuts. I don't know if you are a legal or not but there is only one way to become legal if you aren't. Otherwise you will always be struggling to make it here. . The American people have already spoken to any shortcuts. Sorry.
Raye, two of your arguments are false or hollow. First, YOU labelled it "Latino Land". Please tell me where to find it? It's not on a map. I believe that you have some preconceived notion of where they deserve to come from. Secondly, through your own argument your ancestors did have a shortcut. There were no immigration laws in place if they got here before the revolution. They found some land and worked it or worded trades. Not unlike a lot of immigrants now.
Now, you do remark that immigrants here illegally should go through the process. I agree with you, but you need to make a more thought out argument. Not one based on irrelevant facts or history.
They don't. It probably just seems like that where you live. I live here in L.A. (Hollywood) and most Latino guys go for each other. There are also dreefifnt types. Cholos never go for white guys. The Latinos that just got to the U.S. like white guys for money and comfort (I know this, sadly, from experience!). But the more white-washed Latinos, definitely do go for white men.
I have been monitoring the local republican shock jock who spouts racist rhetoric. From talking in a Spanish accent demanding welfare to begging for an open season on latinos, the aryan arm of the republican party declared war on Latinos years ago. Their next step is to intimidate any Latino trying to vote. We already had a cross burning in the town of Jerome Idaho thanks to republicans who want a more militant party.
Let's not forget how Obama and Holder were responsible for murdering over 200 innocent Mexicans, with their irresponsible and deadly Fast and Furious policy, which provided hundreds of automatic weapons to the Drug Cartels. Both Obama and Holder should be convicted as accessories to murder !!!
Hispanic voters have not been respected enough, and that is fact. Our hopes have not been satisfied by any president. Yet, that will change. There is no need for predictions, it's fact. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
Soon, I feel, there will be a president with Hispanic descent and will champion for the people she or he represents. As demographics change, so too will the political arena.
It's sad to think that humanism, in politics, is seemingly vacant. Immigrants, illegal or not, are still people. They don't take jobs away; they create them (l0ok up Kauffman Foundation information); they don't take "advantage" from the tax payers, as they too are tax payers. Let's wake-up, America, and begin to unify as we enter a new wave of social existence. A fractured country is less potent as a country of one.
Latinos should realize it was the president who gave one of the most important jobs in the country to a Latino as a supreme court judge. Even so, Latino, white Black etc the GOP don't stand for anyone but themselves.
One of these days you will wake up to find that the political master that you thought cared about you will have tightened the shackles so tight that you won't be able to breathe w/ out getting taxed. What a sheep
Lets not forget that contrary to what the delsuional psychos say, our taxes are the lowest since 1958, thanks Obama.
As a "Latino" voter, I know what role she was given and by whom. That said, it is difficult for me to truly celebrate a government that has made political moves to generate support. I don't care if it was a white male justice who was appointed. I care that he or she would support in the topics that are relevant to the community.
As for party interest... GOP or not, it's a system and politicians play it to be in it. Sad realities of American democracy.
GOP ARE NOT ANTI LATINOS. THEY FEEL THAT THE LAWS SHOULD BE ENFORCE, DOES THAT MAKE YOU ANTI LATINO ?? NO...I'M A LEGAL HISPANIC, I SUPPORT ARIZONA IMMIGRATION LAWS LIKE GOP DO...I SUPPORT DEPORTING ANYONE WHO IS IN THE U.S. ILLEGALLY ...I SUPPORT ENDING ALL LEGAL IMMIGRATION INCLUDING H-1 VISAS...DOES THAT MAKE ME HATEFUL ?? NO.. RACISTS ?? I WANT WHAT IS BEST FOR AMERICA AND THE WORKERS, LEGAL WORKERS.. MEXICANS LOVE USING THE BIGOT–HATEFUL WORDS , IS THEIR ONLY DEFENSE...THEY ALSO LOVE USING THE RACIAL PROFILING EXCUSES....IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE ? WHY ARE THEY SO AGAINST POLICE ASKING THEM FOR I.D. ?? AMERICAN CITIZENS SHOW POLICE I.D. EVERY TIME WE ARE STOPPED...WHY SHOULD MEXICANS GET SPECIAL TREATMENT ??
Please everyone, give your vote to SANITORIUM. I am no GOP party member but the general election race would be much sweeter. Obama will wipe him all over the floor. As forall my Hispanic brothers and sisters, soon we will teach those right wing nut bags that they cannot stop our momentum..
Latino = New Millennium Slave
DON'T COUNT YOUR PENNIES AHEAD OF TIME...AMERICANS ARE NOT HAPPY WITH OBAMA –DEMOCRATS ON IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT..MANY DEMOCRATS ARE NOT GOING TO VOTE FOR HIM..
These four candidates in the GOP are trying to roll the clock back to 1954 ...... I am a Hispanic Republican and have no plans to vote for any of the 4 candidates. They will be defeated and hopefully they can get back to the mainstream of reality .... or they can continue down this path and become a minority party for the extreme right.
I'M A HISPANIC GUY , GOP WANT TO TAKE AMERICA BACK TO 1954 ?? I LIKE 1954 AMERICA, WE DIDN'T HAVE ILLEGALS USING OUR HOSPITALS FOR FREE-GETTING A FREE EDUCATION-STEALING OUR JOBS-STEALING OUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS-FREE WELFARE....WE DIDN'T HAVE THOSE PROBLEMS.. I LOVE THE 1954 AMERICA TO....TODAY AMERICA ? HAVE TOO MANY ILLEGALS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OUR SERVICES ...A BUNCH OF FREE LOADERS.
It is sweet justice that the Latino vote will probably be the deciding factor in the election. The GOP hate the Latinos and cannot wait to build a fence that keeps getting higher and higher. Now it's electrified, too. Mitt Romney, for all his business sense, says with complete seriousness, "Self-deportation" and believes it will happen. Well, the Latinos now have a voting voice and let's hope it turns out in droves for the President.
I love how you refuse to acknowledge the fact of illegality. Self deportation won't happen, that's why we need someone in government with the balls to do,it for the good of this country.
Under Obama the number of deportations has reached a high-point. Of course he is deporting the criminal element, not families and students. But the fact remains, Obama has been tough on illegals. Most spanish folk I know do not like illegals any more than you or I.
SELF DEPORTATION CAN HAPPEN IF WE MAKE E–VERY THE LAW...IF ILLEGALS CAN'T GET A JOB ? WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO ??
JEANNE, MEXICANS HATE WHITE PEOPLE BIG TIME...I KNOW ....JUST BECAUSE WE WANT OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS ENFORCE IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE ARE HATEFUL.....JUST BECAUSE WE WANT A WALL ON THE MEXICAN BORDER , IT DOESN'T MAKE US HATEFUL....EXCUSES......I'M A HISPANIC GUY, I WANT A WALL ON THE MEXICAN BORDER--I WANT TO DEPORT ALL THE ILLEGALS....TERRORISTS ARE COMING TO THE U.S. VIA MEXICO BORDER
Your comment is truly based on faulty information and very stereotypical assumptions.
First, not JUST Mexicans are enraged with the building of a useless wall. Tax money going to a faulty "protection" barrier is not a great way to defeat "all" the terrorists coming over. How many would you argue are going the the border, btw?
If you read the news, they recently caught an American in the rich suburbs of Boston helping terrorist forces.. he didn't cross the Mexican border.
The more comments I read like yours, and trust me, there are MANY, the sadder I become recognizing that people like you in the world, truly hinder progress.
People in this country are not all "white", and even if they were, not all "Mexicans" – I am assuming you ment Latinos as a whole, hate Americans. I would argue the opposite. They are greatly thrilled to continue to build bridges between cultures, as opposed to building walls between the groups. I am also Latino and hate no particular group.
Educate yourself and build the bridges for a sustainable and progressive future. If not for yourself, for the future of this country's prosperity.