Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, November 5, 2014
Immigration was a losing issue in the 2014 election, with Republicans who announced their opposition to President Obama’s legalization plans earning victories across the country and voters in Oregon swatting down a referendum that would have granted driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Republicans said the results should serve as a warning to President Obama, who has said he plans to take unilateral action to grant legal status to illegal immigrants some time this year.
Hispanic leaders had been counting on Oregon voters to embrace driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, arguing it would be a signal that states were stepping in to act on immigration reform where the federal government wouldn’t.
But put to voters, the referendum lost by more than 2-to-1, with 67 percent of voters rejecting the plan.
In congressional races, Republicans who promised a crackdown on immigration were unseating Democrats who voted for legalization in North Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado, with a December Senate run-off in Louisiana offering yet another test.
Democrats and immigrant-rights advocates, though, said Mr. Obama must not be cowed by the election results.
“The fact is that the president has the moral responsibility and the full authority under existing law to expand relief and end the policies he himself has described as inhumane. Good policy should not be subject to bad politics,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Exit polling suggested that immigration played only a small role in most voters’ minds, but was a motivating factor for Republicans more than Democrats and those GOP voters tended to be opposed to legalization.