FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Latinos and the 2012 Elections

by ALVARO HUERTA

President Barack Obama owes Latinos big-time for his 2012 re-election victory. According to the polling group Latino Decisions, Obama received an overwhelming 75 percent of the Latino vote. Representing 10 percent of the electorate, Latinos played a pivotal role in Obama’s victory over former Governor Mitt Romney, particularly in key swing states, such as Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia and Colorado.

While Obama enjoyed the majority of Latino votes, including those of Asian Americans, African Americans, gays, unmarried women and young people, let’s not forget that the president failed to deliver for Latinos during most of his first term in the area of immigration—an important issue to many Latinos (and Asians). Instead of supporting policies in defense of this growing voting and demographic group, in his first term, Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush, during the same time frame. For instance, according to The Washington Post, as of July of 2012, Obama’s administration deported over 1.4 million undocumented immigrants.

In addition to deporting undocumented immigrants and separating families at a faster rate than Bush, Obama also failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform—an early promise he never kept—even when Democrats dominated both the Senate and House of Representatives for a short period. Also, unlike other important issues, such as health care and gay rights, Obama invested little or no political capital to pass the DREAM Act—the bill aimed at providing eligible young immigrants with a pathway to citizenship.

Moreover, Obama appears satisfied with two draconian, federal policies targeting mostly undocumented Latino immigrants: E-Verify and 287(g). While E-Verify—a voluntary federal program—allows for employers to verify the legal status of their employees utilizing hiring documents (the I-9 form) and government records, 287(g)—also a voluntary federal program—allows for state and local police authorities to operate as surrogates of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers by documenting and turning over suspected undocumented immigrants to federal authorities for possible deportation proceedings. While praised by many national leaders, political pundits and elective officials—both Republicans and Democrats—these flawed programs instill a deep sense of fear and anxiety among the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Instead of attacking President Obama on these harsh and punitive measures, whereby eroding his support among Latinos, Romney and the GOP not only double-downed on these mostly-enforcement policies, but also went the extra mile to further target and vilify Latino immigrants at the local, state and federal level. While Romney praised Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, as a model for the entire country to follow, he also made his (in)famous remark about undocumented immigrants and “self-deportation” as part of his grand immigration plan.

Taking advantage of Romney’s and the GOP’s gross missteps on immigration and Latino communities, Obama smartly introduced an executive order to provide short-term relief to eligible undocumented youth against deportation proceedings. Referred to as “deferred action,” eligible youth who apply will be granted legal protection to reside in the U.S. for a short period and allowed to work without a pathway to citizenship. While Obama clearly pandered to Latino voters for this much needed relief prior to election day, this program also has negative aspects for the young applicants, since the government will now have a huge database of their personal information, making them more vulnerable in the near future due to unforeseen consequences.

Now that the presidential election has concluded and national discussions of comprehensive immigration reform have become a priority for Republicans and Democrats, especially given the importance of the Latino vote in future elections, it’s imperative for both parties to incorporate a pathway to citizenship as a central theme of any proposed legislation. If “comprehensive immigration reform” only means additional enforcement measures, such as more funding for high-tech border fences, enforcement officials and work-site deportations, then we might as well tolerate the status quo.

Instead of making life more difficult for those who take care of our children, clean our homes (like my late mother), wash our cars and mow our front lawns, we, as a nation, should respect and treat the millions of immigrants who work and live in America’s shadows as human beings. Thus, we should not punish them like common criminals, but reward them for their hard work ethics, daily sacrifices and contributions to America’s prosperity with a simple and humane plan: amnesty.

Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., is a Visiting Scholar at UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center. He can be reached at: ahuerta@berkeley.edu.

 

Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Minute Musings: On Why the United States Should Launch a Tomahawk Strike on Puerto Rico
Tom Clifford
The Return of “Mein Kampf” … in Japan
Todd Larsen
Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?
John Hutchison
Everything Old is New Again: a Brief Retrospectus on Korea and the Cold War
Michael Brenner
The Ghost in the Dream Machine
Yves Engler
The Military Occupation of Haiti
Christopher Brauchli
Guardians of Lies
James Preece
How Labour Can Win the Snap Elections
Cesar Chelala
Preventing Disabilities in the Elderly
Sam Gordon
From We Shall Overcome to Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
Charles Thomson
It’s Still Not Too Late to Deserve Your CBE, Chris Ofili
Louis Proyect
Documentaries That Punch
Charles R. Larson
Review: Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar”
David Yearsley
Raiding the Tomb of Lubitsch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail