In fact, the Obama Administration has gone so far to the right on enforcement that some immigrant rights groups, already peeved at the lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform, are calling for a boycott the 2010 elections. It is a powerful threat. Latino voters are credited with helping Obama flip red states in the 2008 elections: Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. And Democratic candidates in close races in those states and in California, Texas and Arizona are hoping for similar high levels of Hispanic turn out as Dems look at potentially losing more than 30 House seats.
To underline their clout, Latino groups are launching a massive voter registration push. “We were so focused on the census up until now and the Arizona law just blind-sided us,” says Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino. “In June we’re starting voter registration effort — that wasn’t originally supposed to start until September.” They’re also joined by unions, faith based groups such as the Catholic Church. Businesses are also seeking clarity on the issue and an increasing number of law enforcement groups are unhappy with the patchwork of local regulations being developed in the vacuum of federal action. “The immigrant and Latino communities are looking very closely at what’s going on whether you’re a Democrat or Republican,” says Eliseo Medina, the Service Employee’s International Union’s international executive VP. “What you do between now and November is going to be very determinative of how people are going to vote.”