The following is from the July 8, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News
By MERCEDES OLIVERA
The Dallas Morning News
An estimated 500,000 people participated in a Dallas immigration rally in April 2006 (photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus).
When the comprehensive immigration reform bill died in the Senate last week, many believe the GOP's successful courtship of Latino voters also stalled.
Will President Bush be the last GOP president to garner 40 percent of the Latino vote – as he did in 2004 – for the near future?
Some political observers now predict Republicans may be able to muster only 20 percent to 30 percent of those voters in the coming presidential election. Others, however, don't see Latino voters as being any different from the rest of the U.S. electorate.
Latino issues are American issues. When U.S. voters moved to the right, so did Latinos, though never in any large numbers. Latinos consistently vote Democratic, as much as 60 percent or more.
Republicans had always stressed the "natural ties" between Republicans and Latinos – family and religious values, entrepreneurship and social traditions.
But much of that rhetoric changed during the heated national debate over immigration. And Latinos felt much of that heat directed at them.
"If there was any movement towards the Republican Party by Latinos, this [failure to pass the immigration bill] would have stopped it dead in its tracks," said Andy Hernandez, a Latino politics scholar at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
"But the case is overstated. Immigration reform is not the only reason. The war in Iraq has had a huge impact on the Latino community. The war and immigration have had a cluster-bomb effect on the GOP."
Harold Stanley, a history professor at Southern Methodist University, agreed and said it's uncertain what the defeat of immigration reform this year will mean to the 2008 election.
"The immigration marches of spring 2006 vividly showed that political potential of the Latino community. Yet that potential has been more latent than actual," Dr. Stanley said.
"Other issues matter greatly to Latinos – education, jobs, the war in Iraq, the war on terror – and concerns with immigration alone neither displace these other issues nor paper over the divisions on these other issues."
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