Immigration Reform 2013: The GOP Needs to Win Latino Communities, Not Individual Voters


Community and family are important in Latino communities throughout the U.S. Latino communities are known to hold strong family values and build communities that relate to their ethnic culture, such as Little Village in Chicago or Little Havana in Miami. When it comes to politics, a majority of Latinos vote for the Democratic Party; the GOP's "self-deportation" rhetoric of 2012 just added more fuel to the fire and brought out an increase in Latino voters and a solidification of communal identity, especially among youth. This sense of community is one that the Republicans should foster. It takes more than just commercials to win votes.

If the Republican Party wants to establish itself with Latino voters they should start with young Latino voters between the ages of 18-34. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young Latinos the fastest growing population at of 60% of the Latino population in America. They are also making an impact in the voting booths.

Now that the election is done with and will become a history lesson for the Republican Party, the bridge to connecting with Latinos should start off in the right direction. In order to build GOP community, the Republican Party cannot start with the "self-deportation' rhetoric that Governor Romney deployed during the 2012 presidential campaign. Such heated discussion did not help his case in gaining Latino voters, even if one of his sons can talk fluent Spanish. Meanwhile, prior to the election, the Democratic Party had already built a strong community base with Latino communities throughout the country.   

The close knit communities that that Latinos have in urban and rural Latino communities is demonstrated in my master thesis (Young Latino Voters: Are Young Latinos Associated with the Homogenous (Tocqueville) Model?), which focuses on how Latino communities come from a Tocqueville Model. Better known as homogeneous communities, this model defines the communities from similar backgrounds with the majority of people aligning together on issues affecting the community and forming a close knit community.

I am not making the case that every Latino neighborhood is a Democratic Party homogeneous community; the prominent Cuban communities in the Miami area may not have the same political views as the Mexican community of Little Village in Chicago. Yet I do have to mention that each Latino community comes together as a homogenous group and expects for the rest of the community to follow.

If the Republicans want to succeed in gathering support from the Latino communities than the process has to begin today. One way to start is by stopping the "self-deportation" rhetoric and joining Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) along with Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in passing a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform package in the 113th Congress. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus must push forth a plan to gather support from Latinos.

The Obama campaign did their job of reaching out to Latinos by gathering support through community outreach and getting big name Latino celebrities, such as Eva Longoria, to raise the Latino voting numbers for President Obama. Regardless of whether President Obama completed the task of comprehensive immigration reform as was promised in his 2008 campaign, the Latino community still voted in high numbers for President Obama because of the close knit homogenous community that Latinos communities have.

Whether or not President Obama keeps his promise on comprehensive immigration reform, the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party has built strong homogeneous Latino communities throughout the U.S.

Will the Republican Party start building a homogeneous community? Or will the Republican Party continue to assume that all hope is lost with Latino voters?