A U.S. Border vehicle drives along the U.S. and Mexico border fence in Naco, Arizona September 7, 2011. Since the attacks on 9/11 ten years ago, the U.S Border Patrol and National Guard Troops have increased security along the border in Arizona. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
U.S.-Mexico border, near Naco, Arizona.
As you might know, the Senate bipartisan framework on immigration reform has one glaring problem—the two sides have different interpretations of the border commission. Democrats seem to think it only has "advisory" capabilities, in other words, it's irrelevant and does nothing. Republicans seem to think that any citizenship clause wouldn't be triggered until that commission certified the border as "secure."

This is important, because Republicans are terrified of 11-13 million Latinos suddenly having the right to vote. If Democrats got 80 percent of them (as trends suggest), that would mean a net 8 million new votes for Democrats. President Barack Obama won by five million votes in 2012. Holding up citizenship on bullshit border security grounds would allay those fears.

So much of the wrangling over the next several weeks will be over this border commission, as it would include the governors of the border states, currently staffed entirely by Republicans (Texas, New Mexico and Arizona). We don't know who else would sit on this commission, but presumably it would include elected officials and perhaps the heads of one or more federal agencies focused on border security.

But let's assume it's the GOP governors holding up the citizenship trigger, what better way for Latinos to take matters into their own hands than by hitting the ballot box in force? It's hard to understate just how weak Latino voter performance is in the region. Texas is the worst:

if Texas Latinos participated in politics at the same rates they do in other Latino-rich states—California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona—then Texas would already be a swing state. Texas has about the same percentage of Latinos as California. If they had turned out at the same rates as Anglos in 2008, 1.2 million more Latinos would have voted, according to Census figures. McCain beat Obama in Texas by 951,000 votes.
Rates might be higher in Arizona, but not high enough. Per the exit polls, 18 percent of Arizona voters were Latino, but they make up 25 percent of the state's voting age population (and 30 percent of the entire population of the state). That is mostly a function of youth—the median age for Arizona Latinos is 25, it's 44 for Anglos, but it's woeful nonetheless.

So how can you best motivate Latinos to finally turn out in numbers reflective of their percentage of the population? Tell them that their vote will decide the fate of their parents, their children, their aunts and cousins and friends and neighbors and co-workers. You give them skin in the game, and they have a reason to participate.

Hence, the fake-reform Republicans are playing an odd game here—they think they're creating a barrier to 13 million Latino voters, but in the end, they may get the worst of all worlds—13 million new Latino voters, more Democratic than ever, and an angry Latino electorate so fully engaged in Arizona and Texas that they hit purple (or even Blue) status sooner than anyone envisioned.

You can lend your voice to this debate by signing this Daily Kos/Worker's Voice petition thanking President Barack Obama for his call for comprehensive reform.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:51 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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