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Romney alienated Latinos: Pols

Michelle Gonzalez, with her Yorkie Chiquita, voted for President Barack Obama in Ozone Park. Obama received a record high percentage of the Hispanic vote across the country. Photo by Christina Santucci
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After President Barack Obama received record support from the Hispanic population during his re-election last week, Queens’ Hispanic legislators said it was the Republican Party’s hard-line stance against immigration reform that lost challenger Mitt Romney the vote.

“This is not the party that shares our ideals,” said state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights).

A former Massachusetts governor, Romney picked up 27 percent of the Hispanic electorate’s vote, according to exit polls, a marked decrease from when fellow Republican nominees U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won 31 percent in 2008 and former President George W. Bush captured 44 percent in 2004.

Moya said Romney’s suggestion in a January debate that undocumented immigrants should engage in “self-deportation” — i.e., allowing business owners access to data to check if a potential employee is undocumented, thereby encouraging non-citizens not to find work in America and to go back to their country of origin — earned him the Hispanic electorate’s ire.

Strong anti-immigration laws in the Republican-majority states of Arizona and Texas, the Republican Party’s recent rejection of the DREAM Act to allow young undocumented immigrants a path to permanent residency and the vilification of undocumented immigrants also lost the GOP the Hispanic population’s vote, Moya said.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said while there is a conservative and religious strain to the Hispanic population, he said much of the younger Latino population is becoming more politically engaged in their communities, setting up families in the states rather than making some money and returning to their countries of origin. As a result, many of them are voting Democratic.

“When you talk about the conservative Latinos, you’re talking about the older Latinos,” he said.

Peralta predicted that the voting bloc would create influences closer to home in the future. In the last primary elections in Queens, Latinos made up 20 percent of the vote and he predicted they would have a major effect on the 2013 mayoral race, together with Asian-American and black voters.

“It’s going to become very difficult for any mayoral candidate to win without it,” Peralta said of the minority vote.

Moya also said New York Democrats would continue to push New York’s version of the DREAM Act, which would make education accessible to all students, and the DREAM Fund, which allows undocumented students to apply for financial aid.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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Reader Feedback

Jun Policarpio from Flushing says:
The humiliating defeat of Romney and his pseudo-conservative or rather his xenophobic minions in New York, especially in Queens County, the most ethnically diverse community in the United States, may warrant the playing of a Requiem for the Republican Party where I belong. The true Republican Party ideal as promoted by Abraham Lincoln is Equality and Justice. So I would still cling to this party for now but to cure its sickness, a catharsis of misguided individuals that control the political machine is the first order of treatment.
Nov. 15, 2012, Noon

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