26 January 2012

Florida primary likely to gauge voters on US immigration proposals

As the race to be the Republican Nomination begins to gather momentum, the candidates will get a representative view of how their US immigration policies are received within the Hispanic community when the Florida primary takes place next week.

American immigration

Mr Gingrich and Mr Romney are the front runners in the race to challenge President Barack Obama.

The Republican Party has always projected a conservative image, and this is reflected in their immigration policies. Each of the candidates vying to challenge the incumbent Barack Obama has their own ideas on how to handle US immigration yet, with only three states gone in the primary schedule, the candidates are yet to discover how well their ideas are received by the Hispanic community.

The Hispanic community comprises 12 million registered voters and therefore present an essential electorate for the candidates to appeal to. Hispanic and Latino voters, who have obvious ties to Central and South America, have typically favoured the Democratic Party in recent years due to their relatively milder immigration policies; in the 2008 election, an estimated two thirds of the then 9 million registered Hispanic voters voted for President Obama.

As Florida is home to more than 10 times the amount of Hispanics than all the three previous primary states combined, the Florida primary should allow the candidates to see how well they are doing in the growing electorate.

Mitt Romney, the long time favourite, fell unexpected to rival Newt Gingrich in the last primary in South Carolina but has since been campaigning hard to regain his advantage; one Orlando-based polling expert claimed local TV was "wall to wall Mitt ads".

Mr Gingrich is thought to have the upper hand within the Hispanic community as his immigration proposal of granting illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for a long time without trouble from the law a US visa has been received well.

Mr Romney's proposal of encouraging illegal immigrants to 'self-deport' by limiting their work opportunities was met with embarrassed laughter at a debate last week but his constant campaigning and attacks on Mr Gingrich have since seen him wrestle the lead back from Mr Gingrich.

Mr Romney and Mr Gingrich are considered front runners for the nomination ahead of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul who will also run in the Florida primary on the 31st of January. 

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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