"Arizona is the New Alabama"

Toro

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I have no opinion about the new law in Arizona. I am interested in the political ramifications however. And the new law may drive conservative Latinos away from the Republican Party.

Adam Bustos, a third-generation Mexican-American, has voted Republican since Ronald Reagan ran for president. But he has been reconsidering his party affiliation since Arizona State Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation's toughest immigration law last month.

"I've been thinking I might leave the party," said Mr. Bustos, a 58-year-old Arizona native. "A lot of my Latino Republican friends have been talking about it after this law." ...

Many Hispanic-Americans say they feel stung by a law they allege invites racial profiling, incites hatred and discriminates against all Latinos. ...

Conservative Hispanic voters, in particular, say they feel betrayed by Republican Party leaders who have supported the law. ...

Massey Villarreal, a Houston businessman and past national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, an independent group with chapters nationwide, said, "It's insulting to have Republican leaders across the country applauding this racist law. I'm sure this is going to hurt the Republican Party."

Latinos are the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S. After spending the first part of this decade loosening their historical ties to the Democratic Party, Latinos have been returning to the Democratic fold over such issues as the economy and immigration.

President George W. Bush clinched 40% of the Latino vote in 2004 with a message that struck a chord with a group that is generally family-oriented, religious and socially conservative. In 2008, President Barack Obama won two-thirds of the constituency's vote in an election that confirmed Latinos' emerging political clout. ...

Rodolfo de la Garza, a political scientist at Columbia University, said Republicans with an eye on midterm elections have overlooked the long-term negative impact of supporting an immigration law "that paints all Latinos with the same brush." He cautions that the Republican Party may feel the effect of these decisions at the polls for years to come, as was the case in California after that state attempted to enact a similar law in 1994.

But even some of the most conservative Latinos were jolted by the Arizona law. Deedee Blase, a Mexican-American resident of Phoenix who served in the Air Force, said she favored tighter border security and a conservative political and economic agenda. "Now I feel like we are living in the 1960s, and Arizona is the new Alabama," she said.
Conservative Latinos - WSJ.com
 

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