Pollster Warns GOP: Citizenship Pathway Essential For Latino Voters


President Barack Obama’s pollster has a warning for Republicans: pushing for an immigration reform bill that does not include a path to citizenship could permanently damage their standing with Hispanic voters.

“I think that any immigration bill that the Republicans advocate that stops short of a pathway to citizenship is going to damage them permanently with Hispanic voters,” the pollster, Joel Benenson, said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Third Way think tank. “They don’t want to be treated as second class people, they don’t want to be treated as second-class citizens. They want to earn their right to citizenship, they’re willing to. And if the Republicans stay entrenched on that issue where they are now I don’t think there’s any short-term path for them to regain Hispanic voters.”

Benenson’s comments come as both Republicans and Democrats are quietly signaling an openness to some kind of compromise on immigration reform. House Republicans, who had previously been a major obstacle in Congress for passing immigration reform, plan on introducing a new immigration proposal soon.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the new proposal will include a provision allowing most of the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally or who have been in the country with expired visas to stay without having to worry about deportation. That proposal, however, would not include a pathway to citizenship.

“What I’m signaling is that I don’t believe that bill will address their problem with Latino voters and I don’t believe it’ll address their problem with a lot of centrist voters also who find the idea of two classes of citizens in America problematic,” Benenson added.