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Latin Swing

Obama's executive action on immigration results in a big boost in approval rating among Hispanic voters.

While Republicans are busily trying to figure out a way to block President Barack Obama's recent executive action on immigration, the move to shield up roughly four million undocumented immigrants has led to a big boost in Obama's approval ratings among Hispanics.

The Gallup weekly tracking poll shows that Obama had dropped to an approval rating of 49 percent the week of the Nov. 4 election. But last week, after the big immigration announcement, Obama climbed to a 68 percent approval rating among Hispanics.

That's a big jump, especially when you consider that the last time Obama saw his approval rating with Hispanic voters break 60 percent was in April 2014.

It's hardly surprising to see Hispanic voters backing Obama's maneuver. While only about half of the undocumented immigrants are from Mexico, a recent Pew Research Center study estimates that two-thirds of those who will be eligible for protection from deportation under Obama's executive action are from our southern neighbor.

"President Obama's new programs could affect about 4 million total unauthorized immigrants who will be eligible for deportation protection and a three-year work permit," the Pew report by Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jeffrey S. Passel says. "The largest group—at least 3.5 million, according to Pew Research estimates of 2012 data—consists of unauthorized immigrant parents who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and have children who either were born in the U.S. or are legal permanent residents. Of these, about 700,000 have adult children and the remaining 2.8 million have children younger than 18."

The Pew report also notes that the general public's reaction to Obama's executive action is a mixed bag.

The general public disapproves of Obama taking executive action on immigration, by a margin of 48 percent to 38 percent, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted this month," the report says. "While Americans may not generally support an executive action, the poll found 57 percent favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, with support increasing to 74 percent when respondents are given a scenario in which a pathway requires paying fines, back taxes and taking other steps."

So in the abstract, most Americans are OK with allowing undocumented immigrants on a path to citizenship, provided they pay some kind of penalty for entering the country illegally or overstaying their visa—but they like the idea of Congress resolving the issue rather than seeing Obama acting unilaterally.

All that said, Obama's move puts the GOP in a tight spot. While it's always hazardous to game out how a political action like this will affect an election that is nearly two years away, most Republicans who have spoken out on this issue have condemned Obama's action.

Once the 2016 presidential campaign gets really underway, Republican candidates are going to have to say whether they would reverse the executive action—and then they're going to have to choose between supporting the GOP base, which really hates the executive action, and reaching out to Latino voters, who remain a growing—and underrepresented—segment of the electorate.

This is a tension that has been at the heart of a struggle within the GOP ever since Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote, compared to Mitt Romney's estimated 27 percent. One side of the party (which is currently prevailing) says Republicans should do nothing to help the undocumented people now in the country because it will lose them votes from the base and add new voters to the mix who will overwhelmingly support Democrats. Another side of the party (as represented by Sen. John McCain) believes that unless Republicans do something about immigration reform, they will lose their chance to win over the growing Latino voting bloc.

Unruly Behavior

Kozachik hosts separate meetings on rowdy UA students, gun-violence efforts

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has two public meetings coming up next week.

The first is on Monday, Dec. 8, to discuss tensions between UA students and the neighboring community. Kozachik says the meeting was inspired by the recent episode in which students in the new residential towers near Park and Speedway rained whiskey bottles down on the mosque at Second Street and Tyndall Avenue, but he adds that the concerns go beyond that incident.

"There's a real general concern about student behavior," says Kozachik. "I hope it can be moderately constructive. I expect we'll hear about some design issues and behavioral issues and what can you do with leases and how do you vet tenants? What steps does the city need to take action?"

Kozachik has invited representatives from the Tucson Police Department, the City Attorney's Office, the UA's Dean of Students Office, the UA's Community Relations Department and others.

The meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. in room F202 of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building, on the northeast corner of Mountain Avenue and Speedway.

The second meeting, on Wednesday, Dec. 10, will be a discussion about gun violence with Arizonans for Gun Safety. Kozachik will discuss his upcoming proposal to require any vendor who sells firearms to the Tucson Police Department to put their employees through an ATF program designed to help them spot "straw buyers," or gun purchasers who intend to sell the gun to a prohibited possessor or someone else who didn't want their name on the bill of sale.

"I think it's important that people be trained in recognizing the red flags so we can keep guns from getting into the hands of prohibited possessors," Kozachik says. "So many times, that's somebody who has been convicted of domestic violence or who may have psychological disorders and they're suicidal."

State Rep.-elect Randy Friese will also be on hand to talk about Arizona's participation in the CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System, which is starting to track gun-violence statistics across the country.

The meeting is at 6:30 at the Ward 6 office, 3202 E. First St.

For more info on either event, call the Ward 6 office at 791-4601.

Chair Changes

New leadership on the way for local political parties

The Democratic and Republican parties will both see changes at the top next year. Pima County Democratic Party Chair Don Jorgensen is stepping down after one two-year term heading up the party. As far as we know at this point, Cheryl Cage is the only candidate running to replace Jorgensen.

Meanwhile, Pima County Republican Party Chair Carolyn Cox is also stepping down. We hear that Bill Beard, a former candidate for county recorder, is interested in the gig, as is John Lesko, the party's current fourth vice-chair who worked on GOTV efforts in 2014 election cycle.

"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel," airs every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KGUN-9. This week's guest include Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona CEO Michael McDonald, Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation President Demion Clinco, Loft Cinema Programming Director Jeff Yanc and Access Tucson Executive Director Lisa Horner.

More by Jim Nintzel

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