Pro-Immigration Congressional Republicans Do Not Gain Latino Votes

Feb 27, 2013, 04:00 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

Little Evidence Liberal Immigration Stance Attracts Hispanic Support

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study by University of Houston Professor George Hawley finds that supporting more liberal immigration policies does not appear to be a way for Republicans to increase their share of the Latino vote.

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The Center for Immigration Studies report, Pro-Immigration Congressional Republicans Do Not Perform Better Among Latino Voters, also shows some evidence that pro-immigration Republican incumbents did worse among non-Hispanic whites, indicating that supporting amnesties is likely to cost Republicans votes among non-Hispanic white voters.

The complete report is online at: It is a non-technical version of a paper published in the current issue of the academic journal Social Science Quarterly.

"There is no empirical data that support today's popular assertion that if Republicans would only embrace a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, the party would receive a greater share of the Hispanic vote in the next election", said Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies. "Republicans would do better to find another means of reaching out to Latino voters."

The study is based on an analysis of public opinion data from 2006, a particularly good year to examine congressional behavior on immigration and the Latino vote because House Republicans passed a strong enforcement bill that year that prompted national protests. They also turned aside efforts to legalize illegal immigrants. Data show Latinos living in House districts represented by pro-immigration Republican incumbents were no more likely to support that incumbent than Latinos living in House districts represented by Republican incumbents with pro-enforcement records.

The study's findings are consistent with historical voter activity, which shows no evidence that the GOP experienced an electoral benefit from the 1986 amnesty of illegal immigrants. After President Reagan signed the 1986 amnesty, the Republican Party actually lost Latino support in the 1988 presidential election. More recently, John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was perhaps the most vocal Republican supporter of amnesty and "comprehensive immigration reform" in the Senate, earned the votes of only 31 percent of Latinos in his 2008 bid for the presidency. Polling data reveal one reason for this; it shows that Latino voters generally do not rank immigration as their most important issue.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization. Since its founding in 1985, the Center has pursued a single mission – providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

CONTACT: Marguerite Telford (202) 466-8185

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies