Latino voters helped President Obama win re-election

November 7, 2012 (CHICAGO)

President Barack Obama won thanks in part to near-record levels of support from Latino voters.

ABC7's Theresa Gutierrez takes a look at why the president's message resonated with Chicago's Latino community.

They turned out strong nationwide, and in every battleground state that decided the outcome, President Obama got the majority of the Latino vote.

"Never before have I seen a community have such a clear impact on an election," said Congressman Luis Gutierrez. "Immigration was the issue and Latinos embraced it across this country. You cannot get to the White House unless you go to the barrios. The message yesterday was very clear, there is a new electoral map, and in that new map you better be respectful to immigrants because their cause has been embraced."

Activists are saying now is the time for immigration reform.

Tuesday night, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights held a celebration rally outside the Obama Election Night party. Congressman Gutierrez attended along with other Latino leaders.

"The Latino vote made a crucial impact in this race," said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR CEO. "It was the kiss of death to the Republican party in terms of impact in battleground states. Record numbers of Latinos came out and voted. Latinos knew what was at stake and played a key role."

Latino activists say the Latino and immigrant vote in Illinois and throughout the country impacted key races on the federal, state and municipal levels, including key suburban races in Illinois.

"In every single congressional district the Republicans lost and Democrats won," said ICIRR's Joshua Hoyt . "Ten here in Illinois. The republican party lost three congressional seats, four state senate seats, seven house seats, because they did not take into consideration the large number of Latinos and Asians living in the suburbs."

"We can't sit around and cry about it," said Deb Leticia Gordios, of Republicans for Romney. "We have 23 million unemployed and we need to address these issues."

Some Hispanics for Romney still cannot believe he lost the Latino vote.

"In the beginning I thought he was going to win," said Republicans for Romney's Gloria Ortiz. "I think it was all the negative ads they had."

Latino leaders are demanding the president work for immigration reform along with the Republican party.

"He needs to take the same energy with how the Latino population embraced his re-election until he resolves this problem," said Congressman Gutierrez.

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