It’s time to woo the Latinos! It’s time to woo the Latinos!
According to Michael Scherer in TIME:
“When we consider the impact of Latinos in 2012, we are looking at a swing between about a 20% vote share for Republicans and a 45% vote share. The question that follows is how much of an impact this swing will have on the final electoral college results. The polls that really matter are state-by-state surveys, not national ones. Latinos are expected to make up about one in ten voters this year, but many of those votes, in big states like Texas, California and New York, will have no impact on the electoral college, since those states are not in play for Romney. But Latinos can have a big impact on the outcomes in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Florida, and a marginal impact in states like North Carolina and Ohio, all of which both parties will contest.”.
In other words game on. While the immigration issue may not be the most important to all Latinos, it is one that many care about for ourselves, our families, and our loved ones. It’s a political litmus test of racial politics beyond black and white. The call has gone out and both parties are upping their game by reviving dead immigration horses and even hitching their hopes to new ones.
Republicans love to remind Latinos that we’re just like them, based on stereotypical assumptions on issues like LGBTQ rights and abortion. Moving away from morality a bit this election season, the GOP is sing the promise of a potential brown vice-president, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who made the rounds on the Sunday morning political pundit television shows and the novel approach of challenging Democratic inaction on immigration reform by pushing various pared down versions of the DREAM Act.
The Democrats are approaching the Latino vote in three ways. One, by pouring money and energy into massive voter registration and get out the vote campaigns. Two, by repeating the promise of immigration reform and three, by pointing out how bad Republicans have been and will continue to be for the Latino community.
Last week Latinos for Obama officially relaunched, complete with a newish tag line : Estamos Unidos. There is nothing novel in the outreach which focuses on Latinos as the backbone of the alleged economic recovery. Of course there is mention of fixing the broken immigration system and taking a swipe at GOP versions of the DREAM Act, a mention of offering a pathway to citizenship to those who came into the U.S. as children.
Recently in an interview with Univision (of course- this a promise not to be made in English), President Obama promised, again, that if he were reelected he really would push for comprehensive immigration reform in the first year of his second term. Problem with the promise, besides that he made the same exact promise back in 2008 and didn’t keep it, is that Obama has already excused eventual failure. In that same Univision interview, Obama said that while he would push for comprehensive immigration reform in his second term, the Republicans (cue evil music) would kill it, especially Republicans like his likely opponent, Mitt Romney.
With Mitt Romney emerging as the likely GOP presidential nominee, liberal think tanks, non-profits, and advocacy orgs have joined with the Democratic Party in attacking what the Republican ticket would look like with junior Florida Senator Marco Rubio as it’s Vice-presidential pick. The Center for American Progress Action Fund recently released an issue brief ominously titled, “Nightmare Ahead: What a Romney-Rubio Presidency Would Mean for Immigration.”. One thing that immigration advocates and activists should be concerned about, according to CAP, is that both Romney and Rubio seem to love E-Verify, a flawed internet-based work-authorization system and that both would push for mandatory nation-wide use. While CAP accurately points out the problems with E-Verify, including error rates that misidentify workers authorized to work as not and vice versa, what isn’t mentioned is how the current Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano voted to make E-Verify mandatory in Arizona.
Also under attack from the Democrats and their supporters is the GOP DREAM Act. While no actual piece of legislation has been drafted, what Senator Rubio has proposed in statements is a DREAM Act like bill that would allow young undocumented people brought into the United States by their parents some sort of legal status but no path to citizenship. This proposal has rankled many within the immigration advocacy world who took up the DREAM Act as their pet cause after it became clear that President Obama was not going to keep his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats and allied orgs are quick to point out that Republican senators overwhelmingly voted against the DREAM Act coming to the floor back in 2010. What many undocumented young people have countered with is how some Democrats also voted against the DREAM Act in that procedural vote and that since then the Obama administration has offered nothing save an increase in detentions and deportations. In other words, something is better than nothing and it certainly is better than living in fear of being arrested and deported. Likely GOP presidential candidate Romney has cubically spoken out against the original DREAM Act but He did say that he would support a military only version, like Republican David Rivera’s ARMS Act and has indicated that he is not opposed to a something like what Rubio is suggesting. Not all immigrants wants to be citizens and certainly that’s not a path that anyone should be forced to go on, but critics worry about the creation of second class non-citizens who are able to live and work in the United States but not vote. And because it is election time, it’s all about the vote, voters, and would be voters.
The proof however goes beyond words. We need to see what an actual GOP DREAM Act would contain and see if the Obama administration makes any real attempts at slowing down the detentions and deportations.