Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Effects of Blocking Immigration Reform

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post makes a point similar to one I've written about before regarding the short versus long-term electoral consequences of Republicans blocking immigration reform. The basic argument is that there probably won't be much effect in 2014 because there are too few congressional districts where there is a large enough Latino population to tip the scales. When it comes to a presidential election in 2016, though, the scenario is quite different.

The insularity of districts, often due to gerrymandering, is something I've been thinking about with regard to political dynamics at the state level. In many urban areas of North Carolina, such as in Charlotte, Latinos are dispersed in suburbia--they are neither concentrated in an enclave nor in an area with a high number of African Americans. Gerrymandered districts aimed at grouping African Americans into a single district and leaving others more white will therefore be affected over the long term. In other words, supposedly "safe" Republican districts will eventually see more Latino voters, who at least for now go very solidly Democratic.

That political effect is very long term because real change in those districts will require a) years for young citizen Latinos to become voters (and even amnesty programs currently being debated would take many years for citizenship); and b) more eligible Latino voters to actually vote.

But politicians mostly think short term, and in 2014 there won't be much of a problem. If you don't care about losing elections in the future, then you can vote against immigration reform without worrying about it.


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