09/28/2010 03:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Immigration Insider: 5 Weeks to Election... CA, FL, and DREAM

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Immigration Insider Election 2010

A vote on the DREAM Act is delayed, but the debate itself could boost Dems' chances this fall. CA candidates attempt extreme makeovers to woo Latino voters. Rep. Bilbray blasts DREAM supporters as "accomplices to murder." FOX News is furious... with Stephen Colbert. Marco Rubio speaks Spanish. America's Voice teams up on Spanish ad blitz to show who's blocking immigration reform.

Welcome to Immigration Insider | 5 Weeks to Election 2010

California’s GOP Gov. and Sen. candidates attempt extreme makeovers to woo Latino voters: CA is providing the template for flipping from harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric in the GOP primary to a kinder, “Hispanic-friendly” tone in the general election. Like gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman, Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has apparently figured out that, in fact, Latino voters do matter. Fiorina was an anti-reform crusader in the CA Senate primary who proudly supported Arizona's "Papers, Please" SB 1070. Now, she supports the DREAM Act (but asserts her opposition to "amnesty" -- which sounds like a "wink, wink" to the anti-immigration forces that she's still really one of them). Fiorina has started a "Vota Tus Valores" (Vote Your Values) bus tour aimed at Latino voters.  Unfortunately for Fiorina, most Latino voters don't value immigrant bashing -- in fact, nearly 30% view immigration as their top issue, according to a 9/23/10 Latino Decisions tracking poll. Not to mention, the legacy of Pete Wilson still haunts the California GOP.

Markos Moulitsas has more on California:

Latest CA polling shows Latinos wary of Whitman, Fiorina. According to the latest tracking poll of Latino likely voters by Latino Decisions in partnership with the Los Angeles Times and University of Southern California , 44% said Boxer would do a better job with the issue of immigration; only 13% said Fiorina. In addition, 54% of likely voters said Boxer shared their values better; only 19% said Fiorina. Likely voters split 66%/26% for Boxer.  Among likely voters not already supporting Fiorina, only 8% said there was “a fair chance” they might support her; 35% said “no chance at all.” According to the LA Times: “Latino voters, who have helped to propel California's leftward political swing over recent years, remain reluctant to embrace Republican candidates as the November general election nears.”

More on the power of the Latino vote:

FL Senate May Hinge on Latinos: Rubio Touts Cuban Biography over Immigration Policy; Crist Says 'Path to Citizenship' Could Save Social Security: Latino voters make up 13% of the Florida's electorate and could prove decisive in the heated three-candidate race to win FL’s open Senate seat.  Republican Marco Rubio is running his first Spanish-language campaign ad, focusing entirely on his background as a Cuban-American and ignoring thorny policy issues like his opposition to the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and flip-flopping on the controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1070.  Both Rubio’s opponents, Democrat Kendrick Meek and Independent Charlie Crist, have consistently opposed bringing SB1070 to FL and supported comprehensive immigration reform.  Via Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel, this week Crist also linked immigration reform to the solvency of Social Security, noting that “11-14 million people can become productive, participating members of the American economy, paying the payroll taxes, helping Social Security going forward, and making America stronger financially."

While one poll shows Rubio well ahead with Latino voters, the Latino vote in FL skews Republican due to the traditional dominance of Cuban American voters – a dominance threatened by the growing diversity of the Latino population in Florida. In addition, the sample size is too small to be valid.  Watch to see if Crist and Meek can effectively use the hard-line immigration stances Rubio took during the primary to paint a clear contrast for Latino voters in the general election.

An unprecedented $300,000 Spanish-language ad spend shows political price of blocking reform. Spanish-language ads are being launched in six states and nine major media markets today by SEIU, Mi Familia Vota and America’s Voice. The spots call out Republican obstruction on the DREAM Act and show that there is a price to pay for blocking popular immigration solutions. Ads are running in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; Denver, CO; Miami and Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; Las Vegas, NV; and Houston and McAllen, TX—all areas where Latino voters will play a decisive role in contested races this November and in 2012. Listen to the ads:

DREAM Act stalled, but unprecedented activism continues: Majority Leader Harry Reid attempted to bring the bipartisan DREAM Act up for a vote as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act this week. DREAM was never voted on, as every Senate Republican – led by Sen. John McCain – voted to block debate, 43 - 56. (Reid vote no for procedural reasons, and both Arkansas Senators joined the Republicans). The promise of a vote spurred unprecedented activism, however, led by the DREAMers themselves, with strong support from as varied sources as military experts, university associations, faith groups, the AFL-CIO and more. Miami activists even turned themselves into human billboards for the cause. Congress received hundreds of thousands of call, emails, and faxes supporting the popular measure. Military experts, who have long supported the DREAM Act, voiced their support throughout the week:

DREAM debate may boost Dems’ Latino voter support: Last week’s Latino Decision's tracking poll thought it found "some brightening news for Democrats.” Their analysis noted the potential role of the DREAM Act debate: “In summary, we have an interested, energized, and exceedingly Democratic segment of the electorate watching this issue, waiting for action, and with flagging enthusiasm to get out and support the Democrats...Outspoken support from the administration and Democratic leaders (as well as the likely uniform opposition and denunciation from the opposing party) should raise the enthusiasm and energy among this segment of the Latino electorate.” Yesterday’s weekly tracking poll confirmed this favorable turn for Democrats as a result of the DREAM debate: “Last week, our data indicated 61.1% of Latinos felt Democrats were either ignoring or blocking immigration reform; which dropped to 53.8% this week. Likewise, the percent who thought Dems were actively working on passing reform went up from 25.7% to 30.8% in one week.”

Rasmussen polled on DREAM, found Americans supportive: Even the right-wing polling firm Rasmussen found that fifty-two percent (52%) of likely U.S. voters think a child who is brought here illegally and completes two years of college should get a chance at citizenship. 36% disagree and say they not get that opportunity, and 12% are not sure. Support is even higher for those who serve honorably in the U.S. military. Seventy-eight percent (78%) say a child brought to this country illegally who is in the military ought to get a chance at citizenship. Only 14% disagree. These findings build on the 70% support found by the non-partisan group First Focus this summer.  Could this be the reason GOP leadership worked so hard to avoid a debate on DREAM?

America’s Voice and SEIU thanked Senator Reid for moving the DREAM Act with this ad, running in Nevada Spanish media.  First Focus and partners had also published an ad calling for the DREAM Act. And editorial boards across the country came out for the DREAM Act, including the New York Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Aurora Sentinel, Los Angeles Times and the Salt Lake Tribune.   

‘Accessories to murder’ or hypocrisy in action? Keeping it classy -- and showing the depths of depravity among the anti-immigrant crowd, Rep. Brian Bilbary (R-CA) accused DREAM Act supporters of being accessories to murder. Really, Congressman? And have GOP leaders denounced this outrageous statement?  Nope. Not one. Senator Scott Brown even came out swinging against Harvard’s President for her advocacy on behalf of DREAM. Brown’s attack is particularly ironic, given his vote to obstruct the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell from moving forward this week:

Comedian Stephen Colbert's testimony to Congress at hearings into agricultural reforms commonly known as "AgJOBS" draws attention to the absurdity of our broken immigration system by lifting up the plight of both growers and migrant workers, as well as America’s food security. While Colbert took the opportunity to sarcastically mock both our current political environment and our nation’s state of denial when it comes to our food supply, the comedian broke character during the hearing at one point, stating, “Migrant workers suffer and have no rights."

A must read: "Colbert Calls For Either More Visas For Farmworkers Or Developing Vegetables That Pick Themselves:"

Colbert also quoted Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" In fact, King did reply (Congressman Steve King, that is): STFU... and give me back my “tax-payer money.” Colbert had previously noted on his show that the only taxpayer dollars used to fund his testimony would go to fund his water (as much as he wanted) and his mic. FOX is furious. 


@senatus: Durbin says passage of the DREAM Act is his "highest priority."

@ltdanchoi: Never stop fighting. We entered every successful American struggle as underdogs. #DADT #DreamAct #p2

@StephenAtHome: There's no good emoticon for testifying before Congress. This'll have to do: [8^($) The $ represents the value of the truth I'll be spewing.

@andreachristina: No mention of #immigration reform in GOP's Pledge 2 America Boehner evades questions on it

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Cross-Posted at America's Voice.