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Immigration reform: Will it win Republicans any new Hispanic votes?

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Alan Diaz/AP

(Read caption) Federico Paseiro (c.), his mother Patricia Sosa (r.), both illegal immigrants of Argentina, and his girlfriend Daysis Moraga, an immigration activist, hold signs in front of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday. As lawmakers move forward in crafting an immigration reform bill, one widespread assumption has been that demographic political pressures are giving this effort a greater chance of passage than any in recent years.

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As lawmakers move forward in crafting an immigration reform bill, one widespread assumption has been that demographic political pressures – specifically, the Republican Party's need to win over more Latino voters, or risk becoming a permanent minority – are giving this effort a greater chance of passage than any in recent years.

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) minced no words on Monday when unveiling the broad outlines agreed to by a bipartisan group of eight senators: "The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens," he said. "And we realize this is an issue in which we are in agreement with our Hispanic citizens."

But increasingly, many others are arguing that fixing the GOP's so-called "Hispanic problem" won't be nearly that simple – and that Republicans shouldn't go along with immigration reform purely in an effort to win more votes, since that alone is unlikely to convert many Latinos to the Republican Party. Tellingly, one GOP Senate aide spelled out this political calculus for The National Review: "Don’t walk the plank on immigration because Romney only got 29 percent of the Hispanic vote, and sell out on deeply held conservatives principles to bump that up to 33 percent."

According to this line of analysis, even if a comprehensive immigration bill passes, Hispanics are likely to continue to align themselves politically with Democrats because of greater ideological compatibility on a whole range of issues – the biggest of which is a more liberal vision of government that includes support for more services.

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