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Immigration Advocates Face Hurdles In GOP House Districts

Immigration advocates gather Tuesday outside the fence for the lighting of the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington.

Want to understand why House Republicans aren't onboard with an immigration overhaul? Take a close look at the districts they represent.

Hispanics today make up 17 percent of the nation's population and are the fastest-growing ethnic group. But an NPR analysis of U.S. census data shows they live disproportionately in districts represented by Democrats. The average Democratic district is 23 percent Latino; the average Republican district, less than 12 percent.

Of the 200 Democratic-held districts, 76 have a Hispanic population share of at least 20 percent. Of the 232 Republican-held districts, only 39 have Latino populations that big. (Three seats are vacant, pending special elections.)

And for immigration advocates hoping to pressure enough Republicans in the coming election year to force a change, the challenge might be to find districts with the right numbers. The NPR analysis finds a mere five GOP districts with 20 percent or more Hispanics that were won by President Obama in the 2012 election, and only seven more districts where Obama lost by fewer than 10 points.

S.V. Dáte edits politics and campaign finance coverage for NPR's Washington Desk.

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