Hispanic / Latino

Senators Reid and Menendez: Reengaging Latin America is a U.S. National Imperative

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Bob Menendez wrote an excellent editorial on the need to reengage Latin America. They make the argument that doing so is in our national interest - it is not only the moral thing to do, but also the right thing to do. As the Senators write:

The funds that President Bush sought to cut support basic programs to reduce poverty and provide healthcare, housing, and education. Just one example is funding that helps mothers and their children. These funds are particularly important for starving children in Guatemala where nearly fifty percent of children suffer from malnutrition. If President Bush had gotten his way, that program would be cut.

We are not satisfied with our country spending more every year on a foreign civil war and less on core development. We propose a meaningful increase in our financial commitment to reduce poverty in Latin America.

But we do not propose this change only because it is the morally correct thing to do. It is in our national interest to forge stronger partnerships in the region so we can tackle our common problems, such as cross-border crime, drug-trafficking and illegal migration. And at a time when some in our region are promoting anti-Americanism and providing false promises of hope, it is time for the United States to be a beacon of regional leadership once again.

Read the rest of the editorial on our blog...

Also, you can read the Spanish-language version on-line from MetroLatinoUSA

Immigration: new laws in AZ, Hispanics in fear

More good reporting, more interesting stories these past few days.

The Pew Center released a 2nd round of research, this batch showing how the immigration debate has impacted Hispanics in the US. One incredible stat - more than half of all Hispanics in the US, legal and undocumented - 47 million people - fear someone close to them will be deported. Some analysts have argued that Hispanics don't really care all that much about the immigration debate. Hopefully the new Pew Center research will put that idea to rest.

The Times continues its strong leadership on the issue, offering insightful stories on new anti-immigrant laws that take effect in Arizona in January, and how a new wave of Hispanic immigrants are being received in rural Iowa. Both stories accurately capture the complexity of the issue, particularly the strong need in our economy for workers to do low wage, low skilled jobs.

And Rudy joins the Republican immigration ad parade, offering up this new one. He tackles the issue in a way consistent with our counsel these last few years - he defines the issue as one of leadership, and whether we have the political will and toughness to tackle tough problems. He never mentions amnesty, and talks openly about citizenship (though that is all a little vague). In general it is a very different approach from the more hysterical arguments coming from the Romney-Tancredo-Huckabee wing of the GOP.

For a deeper analysis of the current state of the immigration debate see this essay I penned earlier this week or visit our the immigration section of our main site.

The Washington Post weighs in with a great editorial on immigration reform

Earlier this week I wrote an essay reflecting on how obsessed - and perhaps crazy - the modern GOP has become with immigrants. Today, the Post explores a similar theme in a wonderful editorial. An excerpt:

It's a fair guess that this cruel campaign of immigrant-bashing will eventually turn toxic for the Republican Party itself, whose own strategists ( Karl Rove, among others) have long grasped the growing electoral clout of Hispanics. Those Hispanic voters, native-born or not, are anxious and angry about the intensifying nativist zeal in political rhetoric, which many are rightly blaming on the Republicans. In a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, half of all Hispanics in America reported that the debate on immigration has had a specific negative impact on their lives; 41 percent said that they or someone close to them had suffered discrimination in the past five years -- up from 31 percent in 2002.

The new data undercut the Republicans' frequent protestations that their targets are not legal immigrants but illegal ones. The attacks have become so venomous, and the policy proposals so pernicious, that, predictably, they have caused collateral damage among Spanish-speaking and non-native-born people generally. The anti-illegal-immigrant crowd would have us believe it honors and admires legal immigrants; in fact, it is making America a less hospitable place for them.

The candidates are stepping into a breach left by the colossal failure by Congress in June to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which held out the promise of calming a turbulent national debate. The bill would have tightened security at the borders; cracked down on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers; established a legal mechanism for immigration for the hundreds of thousands of workers who enter the country each year to fill low-skill jobs; and provided a path to legal status for the illegal immigrants now living in America. It was a sensible response to a problem that will not be fixed by grandiose and far-fetched schemes such as Mr. Huckabee's -- cadged from an anti-illegal-immigrant think tank -- which goes heavy on enforcement and security but suggests no realistic plan to address the economy's appetite for immigrant workers in the future, let alone those here now.

Virtually all the presidential candidates now tip their hats to tougher enforcement of existing laws, with the Democrats generally differentiating themselves by saying or hinting that illegal immigrants might subsequently be offered a shot at legalization. But in Congress, some Democrats, mostly from red or purple states and wary of being attacked as insufficiently fierce on illegal immigration, are also going the enforcement-only route. A bill co-sponsored by freshman Rep. Heath Shuler, a North Carolina Democrat, which seeks to purge undocumented immigrants from the work force, would probably drive millions of them further underground; nonetheless, he has attracted a few dozen sponsors from his own party.

Such measures, in addition to state and local legislation that would deny some benefits and services to illegal immigrants, are a response to understandable and legitimate concerns that the nation's borders are porous; that illegal immigrants are straining government services and budgets; and that neighborhoods are being degraded by flophouses, day laborers and immigrant gangs. But the rhetorical excess that has accompanied the proposals, and the suggestions that millions of people might be expelled or hounded from the country, not only respond to popular disquiet; they also whip it up. According to the latest FBI statistics, from 2006, hate crimes against Hispanics had increased by more than a third since 2003.

America has had its paroxysms of anti-immigrant fervor in the past, also accompanied by spasms of violence and persecution. Today, as in the past, the national atmosphere is subverting the discussion, drowning out reason. Look at the uproar that overwhelmed New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's sensible, safety-minded proposal to make illegal immigrants eligible for driver's licenses, and you will see logic defeated by posturing, political cowardice and the poisonous diatribes of talk radio. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who championed comprehensive reform, is now chastened by the ferocity of the demagogues who mischaracterized it as an "amnesty"; he says he "got the message" and will now speak only of enforcement in the near term. In such an ugly environment, the best one can hope for is candidates who can appeal to the nation's self-interest as well as its better instincts; who can explain that resolving the immigration mess through a comprehensive approach is not only an economic imperative but also the only realistic way out of a political swamp.

Hating Us Softly: Republicans change their tune when speaking to Univision viewers but not for long...

Last Sunday’s Spanish-language Republican debate on Univision was remarkable. Not in that it was historic or that it marked the “arrival” of Hispanics as a political force to be reckoned with. It was all of those things for sure. But it was remarkable in the show that Republicans put on so as not to come across as the zealots they have so successfully and enthusiastically portrayed themselves as before conservative white audiences when it came to the issue of immigration.

Political jujitzu some might have called it. It was more like a slow, deliberate, sexy tango in which the leading partners were the Republican presidential candidates and the ones being led were Hispanic viewers waiting to be bombarded with the same hateful rhetoric used up to now to describe "those people" coming from foreign lands, with "funny accents" to take our jobs, use our social services, and if you believe Tom Tancredo, kill like gang members and bomb us like terrorists. But of course that kind of talk never came. Instead, that was replaced with seductive, dulcimer tones of soft, toned down rhetoric that talked about the need to embrace legal immigration, enforce our borders, and welcome hard workers who come here seeking opportunity.

There were heart-warming smiles and flowery prose that described admiration for immigrants and Hispanics, speeches about how Republican values were in synch with Latino values, some even mentioned how they had worked and lived in the barrio. It was clear how they were all just so happy to be there talking to such an important audience. Give me a break.

What gives me solace in the face of such blatant hypocrisy and cover-up, is that Latino voters understand exactly what has happened in the past two years since the immigration debate has unfolded. They are all too familiar with the racist, anti-Latino-speak that has been used far from places like Sunday night at the Bank United Center, and away from the brown faces watching the debate all over the country last night on Univision. Hispanics understand the ugliness that has started to transform this country from a welcoming beacon to one that shuns those that look different, speak differently and listen to music others cannot understand. Latinos, from citizens whose families have been here for centuries, to the undocumented that have come seeking the promise of a more dignified life, have encountered the looks, the whispers, as well as the downright screams for “illegals” to go home in places such as my own back yard in Prince Williams County, Virginia, not far from the nation’s capitol.

Latinos all over the country understand what most Republicans fail to see is the reality of life for Hispanics in this country, and why this silly “dance” that seeks to distinguish and divide the “legals” and the “illegals” further proves that Republicans do not really know or understand our communities. Here is what really happens in this country everyday: A Latino family is sitting around the dinner table after a hard day’s work. Around the table you most likely may have the father, the mother, the grandmother and grandfather, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters. The mother and father may be naturalized citizens, the brothers and sisters may be Legal Permanent Residents or may have a valid Student Visa, the sons and daughters are US born, and the grandmother and grandfather are undocumented. Furthermore, there are cousins and aunts and uncles that also range from being US citizens, to having just arrived in the country on a tourist visa, to having been here for a decade with no legal papers.

This family is not going to be receptive to a candidate who on the one hand embraces some members but abhors and persecutes other members of the same family. It does not make sense from a humanitarian standpoint nor does it make sense from a practical policy standpoint.

The distinction is a false premise that allows Republicans to continue to dodge the real question: How to solve the immigration crisis which includes doing something about the 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in our country. None of the seven candidates answered this question when it was posed by the Univision moderators.

That is why the Republican candidates and the Republican Party for that matter will never get past this litmus test with Latino voters and be able to talk to them about other issues they care deeply about such as education, health care, the economy and the war in Iraq. Latinos and all Americans deserve real answers to one of our country’s most serious problems.

So last Sunday night we sure didn’t get any real answers, but at least we didn’t get any hate speech. What we got was a Tango and not a very good one at that.

Stop me before I scapegoat again

From McClatchy:

Minuteman founder endorses Huckabee

Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project, showed up in Iowa today to endorse Republican Mike Huckabee for president, McClatchy's Barb Barrett reports from Council Bluffs.

The group is known for its own policing of the U.S-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration, and the support could help Huckabee shore up support among Republican voters concerned about his record on illegal immigration.

As he's shot up in the polls, Huckabee has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism from rivals. Among the targets is his support as governor of Arkansas for a proposal to let the children of illegal immigrants in Arkansas schools earn the same scholarships as children of citizens.

Just last week Huckabee adopted a new position on immigrants, calling for all undocumenteds to leave the country within 120 days. I guess this new plan earned him this new endorsement.

Can Democrats seize the opportunity the immigration debate offers them?

Yesterday the flailing Mitt Romney launched a new ad against Mike Huckabee for being soft on immigrants. Huckabee responds with an ad, consistent with his new nutty immigration "plan," showing how tough he is. In the special election in OH-5 that concludes today three sets of GOP ads - by the candidate, by the NRCC and now by Freedom's Watch - all focus on immigrants. Last week Tom Tancredo, still at 1 percent in the Republican race for President, launched a new and extraordinary ad that ends with these words "Deport those who don't belong. Make sure they never come back." For the GOP it has become all immigration all the time.

Two new polls help explain what is going on. A new NYTimes poll shows how much the nation has grown disenchanted with the age of Bush, and how disenchanted GOP voters have become with their own party. Our recent Republican era has left the nation weaker and the American people less safe, less prosperous, and less free. Their economic and security policies have failed to deliver. Their ratings are the lowest in a generation. They face an epidemic of retirements. Their Presidential field is the least impressive of modern times. They trail the Democrats in fundraising by hundreds of millions of dollars. Right of center politics in the US is in the midst of a sustained, deep political and ideological collapse. The party of Lincoln and Reagan has become the party of Tancredo and Dobbs.

The 2nd poll is a new LA Times poll that shows 60 percent national support for an earned path to citizenship for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. Remarkably, this poll shows 62% support for this earned path with Republican voters. And this poll, like almost every other poll taken in the last few years shows immigration to the be the top issue with just 15 percent of all voters (see this new memo from the National Immigration Forum summarizing dozens of public polls on immigration).

In the Ohio special, and in the GOP Presidential Primary, the ads are not speaking to a general election audience but are trying mightily to get the attention of a very despondent GOP base. They are using extreme and hate-filled messages to break through, and have now adopted scapegoating immigrants as a grand national strategy. And there is simply no evidence at this point that it is working. In the MA Tsongas special recently the Republican candidate lost. In the 2007 elections in VA and NY the GOP investment in immigration did not pay off, and the Dems won key elections in both states. It also did not deliver for them in 2006 in hard fought races across the country. At the Presidential level Romney who has invested the most in the immigration issue is plummeting in Iowa. Tancredo who has bet his whole campaign on the issue is at 1 percent. 1 percent!

Democrats should be viewing this ongoing GOP obsession with immigration not as something to fear but as a powerful sign of the collapse of the modern Republican Party. In 2008 the GOP cannot run on its governing accomplishments. Cannot run on its health care plan. Cannot run on its vision for our security. Cannot run on its strategy to help a struggling middle class. Cannot run on their high moral and ethical standards. Cannot run on fiscal responsibility. So what is left? An issue that nostalgically evokes the racism of their now anachronistic Southern Strategy, that doesn't even have majority support in their own Party, is reinforcing that their Party has become more interested in scoring political points than solving vexing national problems and that is managing to anger the fastest growing part of the American electorate, Hispanics.

Smart Republicans have been sounding the alarms. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Former Bush speech writer Michael Gerson wrote:

The political effects of conservative opposition to immigration reform have been swift as well. Latino support for GOP candidates dropped back to 30 percent in 2006. According to one poll, Latinos under age 30 now prefer a generic Democrat over a Republican for president by 42 points. A harsh, Tancredo-like image of Republicans has solidified in the mainstream Hispanic media. And all of this regression will be even more obvious in the next few months, because more than half of the Hispanic voters in America live in states that are part of the new lineup of early primaries.

I have never seen an issue where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. At least five swing states that Bush carried in 2004 are rich in Hispanic voters -- Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Bush won Nevada by just over 20,000 votes. A substantial shift of Hispanic voters toward the Democrats in these states could make the national political map unwinnable for Republicans.

There is a moral hazard as well. Surfing on a wave of voter resentment is easier than rowing on the calmer waters of inclusion and charity. But the heroes of America are generally heroes of reconciliation, not division.

In politics, some acts are so emblematic and potent that they cannot be undone for decades -- as when Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Goldwater was no racist; his constitutional objections were sincere. Members of the Republican Party actually voted for the Civil Rights Act in higher percentages than Democrats. But all of this was overwhelmed by the symbolism of the moment. In his autobiography, Colin Powell says that after the Goldwater vote, he went to his car and affixed a Lyndon Johnson bumper sticker, as did many other African Americans. Now Republicans seem to be repeating history with Hispanic Americans. Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

And in a great new article in the New Yorker, Return of the Nativist, Ryan Lizza reports on this conversation he had with Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who has been a stalwart champion of immigration reform and is a backer of John McCain:

Graham read me one of the questions that his pollster asked about immigration. The poll tested voters’ opinion of three different proposals to deal with illegal immigrants: “arrest and deport”; “allow them to be temporary workers, as long as they have a job”; “fine them and allow them to become citizens only if they learn English and get to the back of the line.” In two separate polls, the majority supported the third option. The average for the first option was only twenty-six per cent.

“What it tells me is that the emotion of the twenty-six per cent is real, somewhat understandable, but if not contained could destroy our ability to grow the Party,” he said. “And I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if you’re going to win a general election you have to do well with Hispanic voters as a Republican.” He continued, “My concern is that we’re going to have an honest but overly emotional debate about immigration, and we’ll say things for the moment, in the primary chase, that will make it very difficult for us to win in November. There’s a fine line between being upset about violating the law and appearing to be upset about someone’s last name.”

Graham, who is one of McCain’s staunchest supporters, had not yet seen a new poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, which reported that the gains made among Hispanic voters during the Bush era have now been erased. Nevertheless, he had a warning for Republicans: “Those politicians that are able to craft a message tailored to the moment but understanding of the long-term consequences to the country and to the Party are the ones that are a blessing. And the ones who live for the moment and don’t think about long-term consequences, demographic changes, over time have proven to have been more of a liability than an asset.” He added, “Be careful of chasing the rabbit down a hole here.”

It is simply astonishing that Democrats have not fully grasped the enormity of the opportunity immigration reform presents. Embracing comprehensive immigration reform will allow to draw a bright line distinction with the GOP on an issue where the Democratic position has majority support of the American people; has the support of a deep and broad national coalition that includes prominent religious leaders, labor, business and immigrant rights groups, elected leaders like George Bush, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and passed a GOP-controlled Senate with 62 votes; shows they can take on the tough ones, and work to solve vexing national problems; drives a deep wedge in the GOP coalition; and makes a major overture to Hispanics, who are the key to a permanent 21st century progressive governing coalition.

For Democrats embracing comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do morally, legislatively and politically. Me-tooing the GOP on this one, as some Democrats have suggested, will deny the Democrats an opportunity to put the Republicans away for a very long time and commit them to a position simply inconsistent with their Party's core values. On this issue the right thing to do is not to duck - but to stand and fight.

Immigration should properly be seen by Democrats as one their greatest political and governing opportunities of this political era, and a true test of whether they have what it takes to lead the emerging America of the 21st century. The Republicans are failing their test. For the good of the country I hope the Democrats pass theirs.

Update: Several of you have rightly pointed out that there are many Democrats who do see this opportunity - they include all the Democratic Presidential candidates, almost all of the Democrats in the Senate and many Democrats in the House. Led by Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy, the Senate Democrats have worked hard these last two years to fix our broken immigration system. They passed a good bill through the Senate in 2006 and waged an intense and spirited campaign to get it done in 2007 but at the end were betrayed by a Republican Party that promised to be there and simply didn't deliver the votes.

NDN opposes Shuler bill (H.R. 4088)

NDN has joined many other groups in opposition to H.R. 4088, The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act (SAVE Act). The SAVE Act was introduced by Representatives Heath Shuler and Tom Tancredo, still surging at 1 percent among GOP primary voters, among others. You can find the summary of it on THOMAS.

The letter to which we signed on is below:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our strong opposition to H.R. 4088. The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement Act, introduced by Representatives Heath Shuler and Tom Tancredo, among others, offers a false promise to the American people and will not solve the issue of undocumented immigration.

We demand more from our leaders in Congress than harsh rhetoric and ineffective solutions. Congress needs to fix our immigration system in a smart way, not just throw more money at the problem. For the past twenty years, the Federal government has dramatically increased immigration enforcement and yet, enforcement-alone has not worked to stem undocumented immigration. There are now more than 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in this country. They are here because our economy is beckoning them and because we do not have a channel for hard-working people to come here legally. Yet, the Shuler-Tancredo bill does nothing to address that, nor the devastation that this broken system creates: exploited workers, thousands of deaths in the desert, and over three million U.S. citizen children living in constant fear that their parents will be deported.

These problems exist because Congress has ignored reality and failed to update our immigration laws. Unfortunately, H.R. 4088 is not a solution or even a stop-gap measure. If enacted, it would simply make a bad situation worse, providing a windfall to bad employers by making workers more exploitable, pushing them deeper underground and off the tax rolls. It would harm U.S. workers displaced by the flawed employment verification program, and waste even more U.S. tax dollars trying to detain and deport peaceful workers instead of focusing in on those who mean us harm.

H.R. 4088 is a misguided political response to a policy problem where voters already have spoken. The vast majority of Americans think that rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants is a fantasy and a waste of federal dollars. Furthermore, Americans do not want to wait an estimated 91 years and spend the projected $200 billion it would take, to round undocumented immigrants who are mostly hard-working people. They want real solutions. H.R. 4088 is not only about preserving the failed status quo on immigration, but about intensifying its negative effects. We urge Congressional leaders from both parties to get to work and pass the type of immigration reform legislation that addresses the issue at its root, not ineffective laws that waste resources and offer false promises to the American people.

For more on NDN's efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, visit our website.

GOP Univision debate tonight at 7pm

I'll be watching and writing tonight. So check back later if you want.

Unfortunately, mr one percent, Tam Tancredo, won't be showing up. He calls Miami a third world country. Calls for the deportation of all undocumenteds. Strong words - but he doesn''t have the courage to face the community he attacks and criticizes each day. What an incredible coward.

See his new ad that ends with "Deport those who don't belong. Make sure they never come back."

Going to be interesting tonight.

Update: Have enjoyed reading Kos's running commentary. Markos can be a funny guy.

I'm sure that the Rs feel that they dodged a bullet tonight. The anchors haven't really pushed back on the answers, and allowed, for example, Huckabee to say he is for an earned path to citizenship without noting that of course his path would require undocumenteds in this US - home owners, renters, parents of US citizen children, workers - to vacate the country within 120 days and then re-apply as if they and their families were never here.

I am home tonight in DC watching on TV, but have spoken to some friends at the debate. Unlike the Democratic debate the hall is half empty. It was full - very full - for the Democratic debate in September.

Watching all this tonight I still feel that there is perhaps no greater illustration of the intellectual and political collapse of the modern conservative movement - just unserious it has become - than the way they have handled the issue of immigration. There have been times tonight where you get the sense that these folks are deeply out of touch with America is today, where it is headed and are without both the vision and understanding to lead this great country in this new and dynamic century.

Huckabee calls for all undocumented immigrants to leave in 120 days

In a major reversal, Mike Huckabee announced a new immigration plan that calls for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States to leave the country in 120 days. Once back in their home countries they could then apply for legal entry to the country. While this may on the surface sound reasonable, given the numbers waiting to get into the country, it would be years before they could return, even if they wanted to. So no matter how they dress it up it is a call for the immediately expulsion of tens of millions of people living and working here in the United States each day.

No matter how you feel about the morality of the plan, or its practicality, it is amazing that the man who may win the GOP nomination is calling for the forced expulsion of 5 percent of the current American workforce. The economic and societal chaos these kinds of plans would create is almost unimaginable. After his reasonable approach to the issue in the last GOP debate, this new plan is yet more evidence of the incredible inability of today's GOP to put pragmatic progress before politics.

How far the children of Reagan have strayed. The modern conservative movement has become a feckless and irresponsible force in America, offering wild and unproven ideas, unprecedented levels of corruption and a reactionary vision of race and community simply not suited to the emerging America of the 21st century.

Huckabee is not alone of course. Earlier this week Tom Tancredo, still soaring at 1% in his race for President, launched a new TV ad that closes with this uplifting sentiment: "Deport those who don't belong. Make sure they never come back."

As NDN has been arguing for some time, this kind of approach towards immigration has had catastrophic consequences for the GOP. It is shameful that Mike Huckabee has adopted it as his own. I am looking forward to seeing him defend his new plan at the Univision debate tomorrow night.

Update: The National Immigration Forum just released an excellent summary of the immigration debate.

New poll shows 60% support for citizenship for undocumenteds

Two new major polls are out today on immigration and Hispanic voters. Taken together they reinforce the argument NDN and many others have been making about public opinion over the last 2 years:

- A majority of Americans are willing to grant citizenship to the 11-12 undocumenteds already here.

- Immigration while an important issue, ranks far below other more pressing concerns - health care, the war, the economy, sometimes education - as an issue of concern with the American people. In the new LA Times poll it comes in as the first choice of 15% of the electorate, virtually the same number it has been at for the last several years.

According to a new Washington Post Poll in New Hampshire, immigration is the top concern of only 19 percent of GOP primary voters there.

- Hispanics are fleeing the GOP.

Taken together these numbers support the argument NDN made in its recent major report, Hispanics Rising, and in our recent commentary on immigration reform. For most Americans immigration is not an issue of great concern; they favor an earned path to citizenship; and the angry GOP rhetoric has managed to alienate the fastest growing part of the American electorate in a way that may cost them the Presidency in 2008.

Click here to read the LA Times poll on immigration, here for the Pew Center report on the Hispanic electorate.

Syndicate content