(House Speaker and Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner will be discussing immigration reform with House Republicans. Photo/Getty Images)

As House GOP debates immigration, Latinos key in midterm elections, argues group

House Republicans will meet Wednesday to discuss their plans on a comprehensive immigration reform bill – and many recent reports express skepticism that the House GOP will support reform legislation.  Among the arguments are that for many House Republicans, the Latino vote is not that crucial for next year’s midterms.

Yet this approach might be missing the mark, according to a group of Latino labor and immigration leaders who joined the authors of a new analysis on Latino voters and 2014.

“Republicans don’t have a blank check on immigration reform,” stated America’s Voice Lynn Tramonte.  “They need to be careful about overplaying their hand.”

There are 44 GOP-held House seats where Latino voters could influence the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, according to a  study by Latino Decisions Senior Analyst David Damore. “If the GOP loses just 17 seats in 2014, the Democrats will regain majority control,” Damore stated, saying there are 14 “tier 1” Republican-held seats with large Latino populations, as well as 10 “tier 2” districts where Latinos are quite likely to be influential and 20 “tier 2” in which Latinos could be influential.

As to the arguments that midterms benefit incumbents due to low turnout, Damore points to his state of Nevada. “The 2010 ‘Latino firewall’ in Nevada helped (Senator) Harry Reid maintain his lead,” explained Damore, adding it also occurred in Colorado with Michael Bennet.

To that end, pro-immigration groups said today they are engaging in heavy mobilization efforts to get Hispanics and other voters to exert pressure on House legislators.

“Yesterday the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) launched a 12-district congressional radio ad campaign,” said SEIU’s Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina.  He added that thousands of calls have been patched to Congressional offices, “and they’re making calls in Nevada, there are phone banks in Florida, and voter registration drives in Colorado,” added Medina.

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Recently the House Judiciary Committee passed 4 piecemeal immigration bills, one which seeks to end the Administration’s deferred deportation for DREAMers and one which encourages more state and local authorities to seek to deport undocumented immigrants. This, said Latino Decisions’ Damore, could hurt some House legislators in the midterms.

“Republicans are posturing for a better position to go into the conference committee – but there is a downside to this,” says Damore. “These vulnerable incumbents might make individual votes that will provide fodder for their opponents,” he argued.

On the eve of tomorrow’s Republican meeting, it’s not just more progressive labor and immigration groups putting pressure on the GOP.  This morning leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table announced they are holding a national gathering July 24th in Washington, D.C. to press legislators on reform.

“Tomorrow GOP members will meet to decide how to proceed on immigration – we want to make sure as evangelical leaders that the House knows that the evangelical community strongly encourages them,” said Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association.

The Republican meeting is not the only one taking place on Wednesday. Today the Congressional Hispanic Caucus announced they will meet with President Obama to discuss immigration reform.

“We look forward to meeting with him to discuss how we build on the bipartisan work done in the Senate and pass an immigration reform bill in the House that promotes fairness, the rule of law, contributes effectively and meaningfully to our economic well-being, and provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country,” said CHC Chair and Texas Democratic Congressman Rubén Hinojosa.

RELATED: Opinion: 3 reasons why House should pass immigration reform, and 1 reason it won’t

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