Analysis: Sen. Alex Padilla Can Win on Immigration Reform

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 29: Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Texas’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban and the Role of the Shadow Docket,” in Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alex Padilla, the 48-year-old the freshman senator from California, will not say if he will support the Democrats’ social spending package if it leaves immigrants behind. Latino Rebels has asked Padilla, as well as the other three Latino Democrats in the Senate -Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)- on numerous occasions since Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ostensibly nixed immigrant reform from the progressive bill.

Any Hispanic senator willing to oppose the budget bill would entirely reshape the political calculus for Democratic leadership in the 117th Congress, since leaders cannot tell Latino members to oppose immigration reform, at least not publicly.

But the political calculation of opposing Democratic leadership in Washington is different for Padilla, who is up for reelection next year in California, a state where the pro-immigrant movement has the organizing chops to swing elections. Just look at the recent run-off vote where immigrant rights advocates provided the organizing backbone that saved Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom from an embarrassing recall race with Larry Elder, a Trump-backed entertainer running on a platform of MAGA xenophobia.

“I think it would massively energize Latino voters here who are sick of all talk and no action on immigrant rights in D.C.,” said Los Angeles Times columnist Jean Guerrero when asked by Latino Rebels how Padilla holding up the Biden social spending bill on behalf of immigrant rights would play out in her state. “Californians understand that immigrants are vital to our collective prosperity and safety because we live that reality on a daily basis. It is cruel and racist to leave millions of people without access to basic rights. Padilla should be the messenger and chief advocate on this.”

Guerrero, one of the few journalists in the nation who first predicted, then faithfully covered, the Latino turnout that would prove essential in California’s recent recall election for governor, is not alone in her assessment.

By Pablo Manríquez for LATINO REBELS
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