Candidates in First Debate Out of Touch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 6, 2015

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GOP Presidential Field Reinforces Intolerance and Prejudice; Deeply Out of Touch with American Views on Immigrants

National Immigration Law Center calls on candidates to stop scapegoating entire communities

WASHINGTON — In the first televised Republican presidential debate, candidates tonight doubled down on their extreme and outdated views on immigration policy, showing yet again how out of touch they are.

In 2012, Latinos who voted favored President Barack Obama over Republican candidate Mitt Romney by 71 percent to 27 percent, according to an analysis of exit polls by the Pew Hispanic Center. In that election, 25.2 million Latinos were eligible to vote. That same election, three-quarters (77 percent) of Asian Americans polled voted for Barack Obama while only 21 percent voted for Mitt Romney, according to data from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Post-election analyses of the 2012 election results generally agreed that Latino and Asian American voters had been put off by candidate Romney’s restrictionist positions on immigration policy.

The following is a statement by National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié:

“We need a president who represents the entire country. Yet tonight, what we heard from Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP field is the same old prejudice against and intolerance of immigrant communities that cost Republicans the White House in 2008 and 2012. What needs to stop is the scapegoating of entire communities. If the GOP is serious about ever finding their way back to the White House, they must learn from the California experience over the last 20 years. The infamous Pete Wilson’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies inspired hundreds of thousands of immigrants to become U.S. citizens and exercise their right to vote. Today, we are equally inspired to vote.

“Change is inevitable, and progress is inevitable — and across the country people are speaking out in support of policies that treat immigrants with dignity and respect. We are a nation of immigrants that values tolerance and diversity above all. Tonight, these GOP candidates showed that they are intent on racing each other to the bottom.

“We will not stand by and let our elected officials and candidates seeking office criminalize and stereotype immigrant communities. The power of our voices and our votes will prevail and bring about change and progress, as we have seen throughout our country’s history. Our movement is stronger than ever before, and every time any candidate doubles down on his or her anti-immigrant attacks, we only get stronger and have greater resolve.”

According to reports from the American Immigration Council, between 1996 and 2012 the number of registered voters who identified as Latinos or Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) increased by 9.8 million, and, in 2012, 13.7 million Latinos accounted for 8.9 percent of all registered voters, while 4.8 million APIs accounted for 3.2 percent. Conversely, fewer and fewer voters are native-born whites.

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