OPINION

Op-Ed: Obama Will Win Thanks to Overwhelming Number of Latino Voters

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Voters go to the polls for Super Tuesday primaries in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights on February 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Latinos are an increasingly important factor in California where they are expected to account for 14 percent of the vote and tend to favor presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). At 44 million, Latinos make up15 percent of the US population, the nation's largest minority group according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2008 Getty Images)

President Obama himself let the whole country in on one of the secrets that has been driving this election since day one when he made this comment to a newspaper: "And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."

The only part of the President's statement that could actually be more blunt is to remove the word "should" and insert a "when.” 

That's right, the overwhelming number of Latino and immigrant voters that the President will win in this election make it virtually impossible for the Republican nominee to take the White House. 

Truthfully, the election was largely settled by the spring.  

Mitt Romney ran an anti-immigrant campaign during the primaries, holding out Arizona's racial profiling law as a model, calling for the immiseration of immigrants so as to induce "self-deportation," attacking opponents with a moderate practical approach to immigration reform and vowing to veto the DREAM Act.

The president, on the other hand, acknowledged the moral disaster of our deportation policies by adopting prosecutorial discretion and announcing deferments on deportation for young immigrants in America who know no other home.  

For immigrant and Latino families, these positions boil down to a sharp difference. 

The Republican nominee's vision would continue to rip families apart, perhaps even accelerating families being shattered by hardship induced "self-deportation.”  

Families would suffer greatly under new racial profiling laws modeled after Arizona and without a pathway to legalization, many immigrant families would continue to toil under the terror that at any moment a mother, father, son or daughter might be ripped from their grasp forever.

You see, the economy or education might outrank immigration as an issue with Latinos in some polls, but it is a deeply personal issue because Romney's attacks are seen as an assault on the very identity of recent immigrants or those who count recent immigrants as community or family members.  And that attack can be seen in the polling numbers.

In the early summer, after the deferred action announcement, support for the president among Latinos surged to a 43-point gap, 66-23.  Mitt Romney has focused his attention on leveling that gap by turning to his economic message.  The result?  The gap has reached an all-time high of 52 points, 73-21.  In the end, no amount of TV ads about the jobs crisis can counteract the perception that one of the candidates wants to rip your family and community apart.

It wasn't always this stark for our community.  

George Bush, who favored a practical path to citizenship for hard working immigrants, won 35 percent of the Latino vote in 2000 and more than 40 percent in 2004.  

Those were two of the closest elections in American history. 

Since that time the Latino population in America has grown 43 percent, and now stands at 52 million people.  

And groups like mine, the Campaign for Community Change and our partners in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement have been working tirelessly to boost registration and turn out rates in our communities with astounding results.  

The year 2010 marked our coming out party. Latinos became the firewall that saved the U.S. Senate from an all but certain Republican takeover when, in record numbers, our voters rejected anti-immigrant candidates in Nevada, Colorado, California and Washington.

Over one million people have been deported, shattering hundreds of thousands of families in America who deserve to be together. 

My family has also felt the pain and suffering that comes with a broken system. 

I’ve lost a cousin who crossed over to provide a better life for his family only to be left to die alone in the Texas desert.  

I have family members who are currently being separated from their loved ones because of this inhumane policy that needs to be changed for the good of all of us.  

Americans support practical solutions based on the core American value that family is the sacred building block of our nation.  

We need immigration reform that ends the attack on this fundamental value by creating a path to legalized status for hardworking immigrants and restores family unity as a core principle in all aspects of our law.

Only one of the candidates has promised this solution and that's why he's going to win, and when he does, it’s up to us to keep him to his word and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform for good of the country.

Rudy Lopez is National Political Director, Campaign for Community Change

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