At a news conference here, seven Latino groups and one labor union were showing their muscle, after the record turnout of Hispanic voters in the November elections played a pivotal role in President Obama’s re-election victory.
Janet Murguía, the president of N.C.L.R., also known as the National Council of La Raza, said the Eliseo Medina. This election had been a “game-changer” that conclusively “made the political case for a bipartisan solution” on immigration.
“We have worked to build our power and now we intend to use it,” Ms. Murguía said. “The bottom line,” she said, “is that Latino voters went to the polls with the economy on their minds but with immigration reform in their hearts.”
The leaders made it clear they expect quick action in 2013. They said the president and Congress should take up an immigration bill soon after Mr. Obama’s inauguration in January, with an eye toward completing passage of legislation by August.
The leaders said they would continue a joint campaign they led this year to naturalize Latino immigrants and to register and mobilize Latino voters. They said they would send results from the report card to those voters, to galvanize them during the debate and to guide their choices in the midterm elections in 2014.
“Make no mistake, we will be watching,” said Eliseo Medina, international secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, which led one of the most extensive Latino voter drives. The report card will show “who stood with us and who stood against us” on immigration reform, Mr. Medina said.
Mr. Obama has said he intends to move quickly on immigration next year, after Congress comes to some resolution on the year-end fiscal crisis and other budget issues. A host of Republicans have come forward since the election to say their party should take a new course on immigration, after Mitt Romney drew only 27 percent of the Latino vote.
Republican leaders who have studied voting statistics are concerned that their party’s chances to regain the White House will dwindle if they cannot attract more Latinos. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos will account for as much as 40 percent of the growth in the numbers of eligible voters in the country between now and 2030. By that year, the center predicts, 40 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote, nearly double the 23 million eligible today.
The leaders said Latinos were spurred to the polls by the hard-line positions that Mr. Romney and other Republicans took on immigration.
“We realized that people were attacking us personally,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino, a voter mobilization group. The Latino groups will focus on lawmakers in states and districts where their voters can make a difference. For those who do not support reform, Ms. Kumar said, “in 2014 it may not look pretty for them.”
Latino leaders argued that Washington has done enough to bolster enforcement against illegal immigration.
“We can no longer see enforcement-only policies moving through Congress,” said Chris Espinosa, national advocacy director for the Hispanic Federation. “We have secured our borders, now it’s time to get to other elements of immigration reform.”
The leaders said they seek a single comprehensive bill, rather than several bills addressing legalization for groups of illegal immigrants, like young people or farmworkers. They said they would insist on a path to citizenship for all 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, rather than a temporary legal status that does not offer an eventual chance to naturalize.
The news conference also included leaders from the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.
Mr. Medina, expressing some of the optimistic bravado Latinos are feeling, promised a “massive” grass roots campaign next year. “It’s going to be a doozy,” he said.
“Failure is not an option,” Mr. Medina said. “Comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen. Whether it will be over the political bodies of some of the current members of Congress,” he said, “only they can decide.”