The poll, released on Thursday by Latino Decisions, found that 81 percent of voters want to have a joint consideration of a pathway to citizenship and border security, while only 13 percent would rather focus on border enforcement first. Those numbers are particularly pertinent given the fact that two key members of the Gang of Eight — Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) — have in recent days called for stronger border security before a pathway to citizenship can begin.
This poll also comes at a time when the GOP is struggling to garner the Latino vote, in part over its anti-immigrant rhetoric. Nearly 900,000 Latino youths turn 18-years-old every year, and that accounts for a solid electorate population that the Republican cannot afford to lose. The Latino vote could be an influential factor in a number of states including Arizona, Nevada, Colorada, Florida, and Michigan, where “Hispanic voters could also be decisive in about 30 House districts.” The general election saw Obama win 71 percent of the Latino vote while Romney who advocated for “self-deportation” only won 27 percent.
It has been difficult to gather a broad coalition of Republicans to support immigration reform. On Thursday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) voted to immediately defund a program that would stop deportations of undocumented youths, a measure that had received bipartisan support. Latino voters surveyed have strong ties with the undocumented population, with 67 percent personally knowing someone whose status hinges on electorate ballot decisions.
In the past, the GOP has tried to reach out to its Latino constituents even noting that “[i]t is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome in new members of our Party.”