If the early elections are any indication, and they usually are, immigration is not going to be the driving issue when it comes time to choose between a candidate who takes a strong stance as an anti-immigration candidate over a candidate who is moderate on immigration and presents a broader campaign platform. We can derive this from the outcome of the Virginia and New York elections that were held this November.
On November 6 voters went to the polls in Virginia where the Republican Party used immigration as their wedge issue and in some cases as their central issue, to polarize and scare the voters into voting Republican. In New York toward the end of the campaign the issue of licenses for illegal immigrants became an issue when Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his driver’s license proposal for undocumented immigrants; this was seen as a nail in the coffin for New York Democrats.
In both states immigration took a back seat to more local issues such as the economy, taxes, transportation, city services. This not to say immigration was not an important issue, because it is. But the voters are not looking for extreme solutions as presented by the hardliners on immigration, but are looking for sensible solutions to this important issue. America depends and grows on the backs of immigrants. The voters saw this as a federal issue that has to be dealt with at that level, not at the local level.
According to a CNN/Opinion poll released on November 7 showed the top five issues on voters’ minds heading toward the presidential election are the economy, Iraq, health care, terrorism, and Iran. According to the poll, immigration also came in below other economic issues including gas prices, poverty, and taxes.
This is good news for the Hispanic community. All too often whenever the discussion of Hispanic issues come up, the topic of conversation is about immigration. For Hispanics immigration is not the number one topic, but with like the rest of the country issues such as education, health care, jobs, and homeownership are paramount. But immigration has been used to put the Hispanic community into the political box of immigration making it an “us against them” type of issue.
While extremist on the subject of immigration have driven the conversation we have always said that the solution to this problem will not come from the extreme views but from centrists’ point of view.
Immigration is an important and extremely difficult issue to deal with. It will take all sides to come together and deal with immigration from a workers, employer, social, humanitarian point of understanding to find a workable solution. To deal with immigration solely as a criminal/police issue will do nothing more than continue to create a divide and as we can see from these early elections it appears we are starting to turn the corner with fear as the main tactic in dealing with the issue of immigration. Let us hope so, so we can finally start to move forward toward a sensible solution on immigration.