SAN ANTONIO – Election Day is less than two months away and a lot can happen between now and November, but according to Henry Flores, Ph.D., dean of St. Mary’s University’s Graduate School and nationally known political expert, where candidates stand on immigration will be the deciding factor in this year’s elections—locally and nationally.
Flores recently presented his findings at Athens Institute for Education and Research’s (ATINER) 8th Annual International Politics Conference in Athens Greece. In Flores' study,“The Changing Face of the American Electorate and the Possible Effects on USA Immigration Policy,” he found that 80 percent of Latinos, no matter what their party affiliation or their national heritage, galvanize over one central issue—immigration reform! Flores’ study shows that traditionally 65 percent of Latinos vote Democrat. He asserts that if Democrats present a party platform on immigration reform that Latinos would support that voting block would jump to 80 percent.
Flores’ report got the attention of Time magazine this summer when they examined the Texas Governor’s race. Flores was interviewed about how incumbent Governor Rick Perry’s stance on Arizona’s newly-implemented and controversial immigration law could impact how much of the Hispanic vote he garners.
Looking ahead to the 2012 Presidential Elections, Flores’ study reminds us that 90 percent of Latino Registered Voters live in 15 states which hold 295 of the electoral college votes. It only takes 270 to elect the President. In 2008, Barack Obama won 13 of those key 15 states. Flores predicts that immigration is such a key issue for Latinos that it could decide whether or not President Obama stays in the White House.
Besides being a Latino political voting expert, Flores is also a nationally known election redistricting expert. His work was crucial in LULAC v. Perry case, the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case resulted in lines in five Texas Congressional districts to be redrawn. Flores’ expert testimony helped prove that the division of two congressional districts in Laredo, Texas had violated provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He has provided expert testimony in more than 40 cases, many of which resulted in landmark decisions upholding voting rights for minorities like LULAC v. Perry case. He has also presented before Texas Legislature Redistricting Committees and testified before U.S. House Committees on voting irregularities.
The upcoming 2010 Census figures will undoubtedly show a huge population growth in Texas, mostly from the Latino community. It’s expected that South Texas will gain at least one new Congressional seat and three overall. Texas state legislators will begin redrawing the district lines after the first of the year when the federal government announces the number of congressional seats apportioned to states based on the Census figures. Flores will be participating in the redistricting process as a consultant.
Flores research interests have lead him to author and co-author books and numerous chapters and academic articles on voting rights and the political history of Latinos in Texas and America. He is frequently called on to present his findings at national and international conferences, as well as being a source for media worldwide. Flores expertise and knowledge of the Chicano Civil Rights movement led him to be interviewed and featured as part of the PBS documentary “American Experience: A Class Apart”—a series that focused on the U.S. Supreme Court case Hernandez v. Texas which successfully challenged Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans. Along with being the dean of St. Mary’s University’s Graduate School, Flores has also taught political science courses for more than 25 years. He holds a B.A. in political science from St. Mary’s and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, and was also a Fulbright Scholar.
St. Mary’s University is ranked No. 1 by Washington Monthly’s 2010 “College Rankings—What Can Colleges Do for the Country” for promoting community service, fostering scientific and humanistic research, and making a quality college education accessible and affordable. St. Mary’s is also ranked seventh in the West Region for quality and value in“Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and also ranked among Forbes list of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2011. St. Mary’s University, as a Catholic Marianist University, fosters the formation of people in faith and educates leaders for the common good through community service, integrated liberal arts and professional education, and academic excellence.