There's Hope Yet: Hispanics Could Deliver Congress to Democrats in 2014

New analysis by Latino Decisions shows Hispanics in 44 battleground congressional districts held by Republicans poised to make a difference next November. The study comes on the heels of a June 6th vote in which every House Republican voted to defund President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program popular in the Hispanic community. Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to have a different outcome in Congress, and the study reveals that the long talked about demographic shift is imminent.

The study grouped the districts into "3 tiers" based on the likelihood that Hispanics could influence the outcome. The first tier includes Texas' 14th congressional district, currently held by Randy Weber. In 2012, Obama lost the suburban Houston district to Mitt Romney 60/40 but Weber only beat his challenger by 8.9%, the Latino Voting Age population is 19.2%. A recent Gallup poll shows that 60% of Hispanics side with the Democrats on immigration policy. 

Republicans ignore even their own research when it conflicts with the prejudices of their primary voters. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs refused to reissue a 2006 state immigration study that found that deporting Texas' 1.4 million undocumented immigrants would have a $17.7 billion negative impact on the state's economy.

Some Republicans have acknowledged their electoral plight if a growing population of Hispanic voters view their party as hostile, yet for years Republicans have tried to woo Hispanics through the prism of conservative Christianity while adding barriers to immigration, voting, and access to healthcare. The tactic doesn't seem to be working. A poll in June by Latino Decisions found that only 8% of Hispanics have a "very favorable" view of Republicans, with 25% as "somewhat favorable". Despite these numbers and Hispanics' overwhelming support for immigration reform, those in the right-wing "conservative" media continue to attack Republicans who lend any support for the idea.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, now running for Governor, loves to tout his wife's half-hispanic roots but spent the last several years suing the federal government for the right to implement the state's discriminatory redistricting maps, restrictive voting requirements and to deny citizens the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

To further illustrate the depth of Irony, a former Republican state representative who is also Hispanic was recently "treated like a drug dealer" on an otherwise routine traffic stop. The former Rep. was wearing his Greg Abbott for Governor t-shirt and was on his way to meet with Senator John Cornyn (to talk immigration?) when Immigration and Customs Enforcement began to question him before his car was impounded. During past legislative debates around sanctuary cities and voter ID Republican Hispanic representatives have claimed they have never received any discrimination when asked how such laws might affect those in the Hispanic community.

The former state rep. was asked about the "extremely disrespectful" treatment and told the Texas Tribune, "They assumed I was guilty, and they expected me to prove that I was innocent." Unfortunately, that's how all too many Hispanics feel in Texas, and who can blame them when listening to the current national debate on immigration?

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