None of this was a surprise to O’Rourke, who is a former congressman from El Paso, a city that is nearly 80 percent Hispanic. “Immigration is obviously not the only issue, nor should it be the defining issue,” he said after the session. “I’ve learned that every single issue is important to the Latino community.”
More unexpected was an undercurrent of unease here that the Democratic Party, in its revulsion over Trump’s harsh policies and obnoxious rhetoric, is positioning itself too far to the left on immigration.
While the Democrats hold an enormous electoral advantage with Hispanic voters, their turnout has traditionally lagged that of other ethnic groups. But last November’s midterms saw a 50 percent increase in Latino participation compared with the midterm elections four years earlier.
Despite expectations that Latinos will be a crucial constituency in 2020, LULAC President Domingo Garcia told me that he thinks Democratic candidates made a mistake at a recent presidential debate. All 10 candidates who were onstage for the second night of debate raised their hands to show they would support providing government health coverage to people who are in the country illegally. Most of the others who are running have also said they would support that idea.