The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, in partnership with the USC College Democrats, USC College Republicans and the Daily Trojan, held its biweekly Students Talk Back forum on Wednesday. With the onset of midterm elections, the panel discussed potential changes in immigration policy.Midterm season · Commentators discussed the role immigration will play in the midterm elections this fall and the general elections in 2016. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanThis week’s forum entitled, “Refugee Crisis at the Border: Immigration Reform’s New Challenge,” discussed the popular areas of concern regarding foreseeable changes in immigration policy.The talk featured panelists Dan Schnur, executive director of the Unruh Institute; Mike Madrid, Principal at Grassroots Lab; Christina Wilkes, communications director of the College Democrats; and Alexander Kludjian, executive board member of the College Republicans. The panel also featured co-moderators Kerstyn Olson, deputy director of the Unruh Institute and Isabella Sayyah, managing editor of the Daily Trojan.Recently, President Barack Obama announced his plans to halt any administrative action on immigration reform until midterm elections are over. A significant increase in the number of unattended children and minors left at the border has angered those who feel the government should take action.Olson opened the panel by discussing the way in which the presidential candidates for the 2016 election will handle the issue of immigration reform.Madrid set the stage for the discussion by pointing out some key differences in voter apathy regarding immigration between voters in California and those in the Midwest and the South.“Where it gets particularly complicated for the President is with some of the battleground states, states in the Midwest and South where more conservative Democrats [are trying] to hold their senate seats, and the President has decided to hold off action until the end of election,” Madrid said.Madrid also pointed out that Latinos in the past had the tendency to vote in a block. He said that this has changed, as generational differences reveal changes of opinion among Latino voters of different ages.“The calculation is a complicated one because it affects both Latino voters, which is of course paramount to the Democratic party base, but also white, Midwest and Southern voters, where the issue of immigration is seen completely differently,” Madrid said.Wilkes commented on the issue by stating that a political candidate’s relevancy depends on his or her ability to respond to the United States’ shifting demographics.She pointed out that it was important for Republicans to undergo a shift in thinking with regard to the Latino population in the United States.“It’s not looking like the cooperation between the House and the Senate is really going to allow for that comprehensive bill to get done by 2016,” Wilkes said. “So, I think it’s going to play a very important role, and in this past election Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote. I think Republicans are finally realizing that they have to beacon a message that is more sympathetic towards Latino voters.”Schnur pointed out that that Obama has faced criticism in response to his lack of action on immigration reform. Last June, Obama stated he would utilize executive action in responding to immigration issues if Congress did not take significant steps to complete comprehensive immigration reform. However, such executive action did not materialize.“Over the course of the summer, as we saw this tremendous influx of young people coming from Central America, national public opinion turned in the exact opposite direction and made Americans much less receptive to the kinds of comprehensive reform that President Obama and Bush had been fighting for,” Schnur said.Kludjian said that potential changes in immigration reform could be an opportunity for the Republican Party to gain an advantage in the midterm elections.“I think the GOP has a golden opportunity because we do have a president that has largely ostracized the Latino community, who has promised them things and has not delivered, and I think the changing demographics is something that is concrete and something we can work off of,” he said.