Published on December 19th, 2012


Jose Fulgencio: Latinos, Republicans, and the “Tipping” Point

Not too long ago, I had an argument with a colleague over the issue of immigration. He is a strong believer in “self-deportation” and believes that  all “illegals” should be kicked out of the country.  I, of course, was amazed at his rhetoric. The reason? Well, my colleague is not even a US citizen, let alone a resident; he is an individual with a visa. I understand his point of view that immigration needs to be controlled, borders secured, and that “illegal’s” that are here committing crimes and causing trouble should be shown the door. That said, it is almost impossible, not to mention impractical for the U.S. to kick out over 11.2 million people.

Instead of self-deportation, the focus should be on fixing the problem, with Republicans leading the way. Latinos need to see that not all Republicans share the same rhetoric as my colleagueCase in point: George Bush recently stated that there has to be comprehensive immigration reform.

Even Congressman Ryan approached Congressman Luis Gutierrez about finding a solution to immigration. Following-up on  this, Greg Hinz, a writer with Crain’s Chicago Business stated in his column, entitled “It’s finally Gutierrez’s Immigration Moment” (November 19,2012) that the momentum for comprehensive immigration reform had finally come.

What we see  happening today in the U.S. with the Latino vote is the “tipping” of the electoral vote and serious change in how candidates are being elected. Many decades ago it was the Irish who were the “tipping” point for the Democrats (mostly in cities in the North East) now Latinos are the “tipping” point in the political arena.

While 71% of the Latino vote going to President Obama does have significant political “tipping” power…what of the other 27%? Does anyone know what to think of the small percentage of Latino voters that voted for Governor Romney?

When African-Americans were finally given the full right to vote following the Civil Rights Act of 1965, many responded by voting in powerful numbers; over time they began to aligned themselves with the Democratic Party (the majority continuing to since then).

So the question begs itself: with President Obama winning the Latino vote in two elections will the trend continue for 2016 and beyond? Or is this until the Republican Party brings forth a candidate that is open to solving the immigration problem and does not open the immigration dialogue with “self-deportation”?

If Latinos continue to put in office a Democratic candidate who does not solve the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, then the Democrats will most likely believe that they have Latinos under their arms, and not have to worry about losing the Latino vote. On the other hand, if Republicans open the conservation with talk of “self-deportation” it will be difficult for the Republican Party to capture the Latino vote in 2016.

What I offer, as a solution is, that Republicans start to begin the dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform , and that we do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and seeks to solve the issue. 

As mentioned previously, I do understand that we have a broken immigration system and that our borders need to be secured. This is a fact and there is no debating it.

I want make it clear for both Republicans and  Latinos, especially the young ones that are conservative in nature. If we fail to compete for these votes The Democrat Party will most likely keep the Latino vote under their arm. They will have no incentive to fight for our vote as long as they win over a majority. Only when Latino voters question both parties and make both of them fight for our vote are latinos in a good position to be a serious voting block. 

That said, if Republicans, such as fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) President George W. Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator-elect Ted Cruz, Gov.Mendoza and others, launch an initiative that embraces a more welcoming, respectful, solutions driven approach, more Latinos could possibly start to give the party a second look , as they did for President George W. Bush in 2004.

As conservative Republicans, we must have this conversation starting first with “how to solve the issue” not with screams of  “self-deportation”. We must make it clear that latinos do not by default belong to one party; and that Republicans are willing to fight for “every” vote.

The “tipping” point is in the hands of millions of Latino voters. The Republicans must Party do a better job at capturing these voters not just for the mid-term election of 2014, or for the election of 2016,  but beyond.

*tipping is defined as a phenomenon that occurs when a group that is becoming more numerous over time grows large enough to change the political balance in a district, state, or country (American Government & Politics Today 2012)


Jose Fulgencio is currently a Lecturer in the Political Science Department at Oklahoma State University, a graduate student finishing up my M.S. in Entrepreneurship (May 2013) and in the process of launching his third business venture  with the guidance of the School of Entrepreneurship faculty at Oklahoma State University.


Follow Jose Fulgencio on Twitter @josefulgencio51

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