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Congress Fails to Vote With a Growing Segment of Constituents

Lawmakers have voting records on immigration legislation that are inconsistent with a significant portion of their constituents, according to the National Latino Congreso’s Immigrant Justice Report Card-Interim Progress Report. Developed over the last three months by four research and advocacy groups, the report offers a statistical review of congressional actions and voting records on selected immigration legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses.

The report found that while there is national public support for progressive immigration reform, around half of lawmakers are failing to meet the expectations of an important, growing segment of constituents: the foreign-born immigrant and minority populations, especially Latinos. In the House, 236 members had anti-immigrant voting and/or sponsorship records and 41.3 percent of members with a significant immigrant constituent population (50,000 people or more) had a record of anti-immigrant voting (that is, voting against pro-immigrant legislation or voting for anti-immigrant legislation). Forty-six senators had anti-immigrant voting and/or sponsorship records and 25.9 percent of senators with a significant immigrant constituent population showed a record of anti-immigrant voting.

In the Senate, Idaho, Tennessee and Wyoming had the worst record from the perspective of immigration advocates, with no votes for pro-immigrant legislation. There were 18 senators who supported anti-immigrant legislation over pro-immigrant legislation 100 percent of the time — not surprisingly, all Republicans — including senators from states with large immigrant populations. In the House, Alaska, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming also received zero percent.

There is a serious mismatch between constituents and lawmakers, said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, during a conference call with advocacy groups and authors of the report card. “Unless the Congress acts soon, consistent with their constituencies, this mismatch will get worse,” he said, noting the rising population of immigrants and minorities in the country.

The report’s authors picked legislation based on how well it represented either pro- or anti-immigration reform and how positively or negatively it affected immigrant and Latino communities. The next report card will be released later this year in October. Until then, this report could serve immigrant and minority communities when deciding who they should vote for in November, said Angela Sanbrano of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities.

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