Disillusioned Hispanics Could Cost Dems in Midterm Elections

Image: Disillusioned Hispanics Could Cost Dems in Midterm Elections Immigration activists gather outside the White House on March 12 to protest deportations.

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 08:27 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Latinos are increasingly disenchanted with President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration, worrying Democrats already vulnerable in this year’s midterm elections, according to The New York Times.

Since 2009, the Obama administration has deported about 396,000 immigrants each year,  more than during the leadership of Republican President George W. Bush, who averaged 252,000 a year, according to the Pew Research Center.

With 75 percent of the nation’s 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants being Hispanic, Latino support has been key to Democratic victories across the country. Obama knows the importance of the Latino vote. Pew reported that a record 11.2 million Hispanics voted in the 2012 presidential election, with 71 percent supporting Obama over GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

Further handicapping Democrats, who are trying to keep control of the Senate, is a religious shift among Latinos. CNN reported this month that a 2013 Hispanic Value Survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute showed the number of evangelical Protestants has nearly doubled – from 7 percent to 13 percent, or nearly 8 million people.

"Evangelicals have the most affinity for the Republican Party," the institute's chief executive officer, Robert P. Jones, told CNN.

Evangelical Latino Protestants are angry with the president, and the pastor of Chicago’s 20,000-member New Life Covenant Ministries told CNN the Latino vote is "up for grabs" in 2014.

"Barack flipped on us," said Pastor Wilfredo De Jesus, who Time magazine last year named one of the 100 most influential people in the world. "I traveled for Obama for 14 months as a surrogate. I talked to the White House, and I said, 'The president cannot speak from both sides of his mouth.' It's only right for the Republicans to say, 'Let's win back this Latino bloc, at least the evangelicals.' That starts with the immigration issue."

Though the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill last year, it has been stalled in the House. The enforcement of existing immigration laws has been so aggressive under the president that Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy organization, dubbed Obama the "deporter in chief."

In Colorado, where Hispanics composed 14 percent of its 2012 electorate – with 70 percent voting Democrat – Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, is at risk of losing his seat, according to The Times.

The president attempted to reassure Hispanics during a recent meeting with Latino lawmakers and later with 17 leaders of immigration groups, but Latinos remain skeptical, according to the Times.

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