Hispanic / Latino

States' Immigrant Policies

The Washington Post looks at how states have responded to the federal government's inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform. As the piece lays out, not only are the intent and motivation behind these laws varied, but also the potential effect on future comprehensive legislation:

As the Bush administration and Congress sit gridlocked on an immigration overhaul, states are jumping into the debate as never before. In the process, they are creating a national patchwork of incongruous immigration laws that some observers fear will make it far more difficult to enact any comprehensive, federally mandated bill down the line.

Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York cites the failure of the federal government and the necessity of addressing immigration reform to explain his actions:

"The federal government has failed to establish a coherent or rational policy, and as a consequence, we are left to deal with this on a state level. We're left dealing with the reality of up to 1 million [illegal] immigrants in New York. . . . I would prefer to have [them] carrying a legitimate form of identification, a driver's license that allows them to get insurance, allows our law enforcement to track their driving records and brings these drivers out of the shadows."

Unfortunately, not all states have the best interests of immigrants at heart, which is why NDN will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

NYT: Stop the Raids

An editorial from today's New York Times shows how truly ineffective and unreasonable the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have been. From the lede:

Armed squads bursting into homes in the dead of night with shotguns and automatic weapons, terrorizing families and taking away anyone who lacks identity papers, even if they have raided the wrong house. It may sound like Baghdad, but it is the suburbs of New York City, the latest among hundreds of communities around the country where federal agents have been invading homes and workplaces in search of immigrants to deport.

Federal officials say the raids are a focused campaign to catch gang members and other fugitives. That would be good if Immigration and Customs Enforcement were carefully extracting the dangerous criminal sliver from a population of 12 million illegal immigrants. But as immigration raids have vastly increased, they have become something murky and ugly.


The raids were stunningly ineffective. Nassau says they caught only 6 of 96 fugitives. ICE, using a looser definition of “gang member,” said it got 13 in Nassau and 15 in neighboring Suffolk. There, Peggy De La Rosa-Delgado, an American citizen, said her Huntington Station home was raided by mistake last Thursday at 5:30 a.m. It was the second predawn raid looking for the same man at the same wrong address. Her husband and three teenage sons, legal residents, were terrified, she said.

ICE officials callously shrug off such mistakes as collateral damage, but advocates for immigrants have filed a class-action lawsuit asserting that recent raids in the New York City area were unreasonable searches conducted by agents who did not show warrants and misidentified themselves as police officers.

Rudy's Endorsements

I know Rudy is trying to prove his toughness on immigration, going back on what he said as Mayor of New York City, but two of his endorsements seem like he might be embracing the wrong people.

Remember Pete Wilson, the former Governor of California? Perhaps you remember Proposition 187 - the 1994 ballot initiative that Gov. Wilson favored and would have denied illegal immigrants social services but was overturned in federal court. (Memories of that ballot initiative galvanize California's Latino electorate, by the way.) Last week, Pete Wilson endorsed Rudy Giuliani at a press conference which Giuliani used as an excuse to skip a debate focusing on minority issues.

Does Joey Vento ring a bell? Perhaps his restaurant, Geno's steaks in Philadelphia, PA? Mr. Vento brought national attention to South Street after putting up an "English-only" sign outside of his restaurant. The sign caused quite a deal of controversy, even earning a place in Philadelphia's Mayoral debate yesterday. Joey Vento also endorses Rudy Giuliani - for reasons you can see in the video below:

I might be over-analyzing, but it just seems like Rudy may be taking it too far. Mike Huckabee, deemed the GOP's dark horse by Newt Gingrich and President Clinton, said it best in the debate Giuliani skipped:

"I want to be President of the United States, not just President of the Republican Party...frankly, I'm embarrassed. I'm embarrassed for our party and I'm embarrassed for those who didn't come, because there's long been a divide in this country and it doesn't get better when we don't show up."

Update: The New Republic weighs in on the Vento endorsement, saying "Giuliani's visit showcased a former mayor willing to pander to the lowest common denominator of immigrant-bashing."

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Governor Bill Richardson: 2008 and the Hispanic vote

The latest issue of The Economist features a flattering profile of Governor Bill Richardson, whose many successes (and few failures) in areas like diplomacy make up what has turned out to be an incredibly impressive resumé. Yet still, he remains among the second-tier of his fellow Democratic candidates. To vault himself to the top, the article suggests one community Richardson could naturally turn to for support: Hispanics. From the Economist:

Mr Richardson's Latino heritage will probably help him. Hispanics make up about 15% of the population. Many are not yet citizens and so cannot vote, but the Hispanic electorate will have nearly doubled between 2000 and 2008, from 7.5m to 14m, by one estimate. Hispanics are both the largest and the fastest-growing minority, and their votes are up for grabs. Whereas African-Americans vote monolithically for the same party (the Democrats), Latinos switch back and forth a bit.

The article then goes in-depth, suggesting that candidates from both parties consider reaching out to the fastest-growing minority and not alienate or demonize it:

George Bush wooed them assiduously and won 40% of the Latino vote in 2004—twice the share his fellow Republican Bob Dole had managed eight years previously. But then nativist Republicans derailed Mr Bush's plan for a more welcoming immigration system. Some of them, such as Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, used alarmist rhetoric that sounded hostile to Hispanics in general. Hispanics duly dumped the Republicans—the Democrats' 19 percentage point lead in 2004 swelled to 39 points in 2006.

Democratic strategists confidently predict that they will maintain their lead among Latinos in 2008. Immigration reform is still stalled, and the top Republican presidential candidates, with the conspicuous exception of John McCain, are pandering to nativist voters. The line-up at Republican presidential debates was all-white until a few days ago, and includes both Mr Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, who boasts he will build not one but two fences along the Mexican border. Neither has a chance of winning, but the contrast with the Democrats is nonetheless stark. Two of their candidates speak fluent Spanish (the other is Christopher Dodd). All attended a debate on Univision, a Spanish-language channel, on September 9th; the Republicans have yet to follow suit.

It is pointless to make long-term predictions about how a group as diverse as Latinos will vote—it depends how each party treats them. But one can wager that Republican raging about illegal immigration will boost the Democrats next year. If they take Florida, a big swing state where 11% of those who voted in 2006 were Latino, it will be hard for a Republican to win the White House. That is also true if they capture Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, which are all heavily Hispanic.

The growing political influence and power of the Hispanic electorate is something that we at NDN have discussed for quite some time. For more details, check out our most recent report, Hispanics Rising.

NDN releases new report on the Hispanic Electorate - "Hispanics Rising"

For 5 years the NDN community has been telling a simple but important story - that the very rapid growth of the Hispanic community was creating a very new and powerful dynamic in the American electorate.

In our new report, Hispanics Rising, NDN reviews the emerging politics of the fastest-growing part of the American electorate, one deeply changed by the immigration debate. The report documents how Hispanics have gone from a group trending Republican to a group overwhelmingly Democratic; one whose percentage of the American electorate has increased by 33 percent in the last 4 years; and one poised, because of the structure of the Electoral College, to determine who the next President will be in 2008.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday, former Bush Chief White House Speechwriter Michael Gerson described the changes in the Hispanic electorate this way:

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 … Some in the party seem pleased. They should be terrified.

See additional stories about these developments here and here.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

The Hispanic Electorate and 2008

There has been a lot of press coverage on something we at NDN have been discussing for quite a while - that the influence of the growing Hispanic Electorate can't be ignored, much less demonized. Looking ahead to 2008, these articles - a sampling of which is below - provide fair warning specifically to the GOP that their actions could have serious consequences:

Is GOP Erasing Gains It Made With Hispanics?, Newsweek, 09/24/07

Debate No-Shows Worry GOP Leaders, Washington Post, 09/19/07

Division Problem, Michael Gerson, Washington Post, 09/19/07

Hispanics and the GOP, Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 09/15/07

Hispanic Voters Flex Political Muscle, Wall Street Journal, 09/15/07

The G.O.P.’s Candidate-Free Debate, New York Times, 09/20/07

Read more recent press stories about the growing power of the Hispanic electorate here

Know your sources

The Center for American Progress has a very interesting piece on "immigration experts" whose past commentary would discredit their views if the media did its research. CAP reminds us all of the need to know who your source is, especially when dealing with an issue like immigration:

As long as leading mainstream media sources give voice to these organizations without explaining who they really are, the American public will not be fully informed. Motives of those presenting ideas matter for all of us as we think through issues. The mainstream press has failed to set the context and is thus misshaping the immigration debate. And, the mainstream national press often influences with its coverage the kind of reporting given to a topic by local newspapers in communities across the country.

Because of the failure by Congress to pass comprehensive national immigration reform, increasingly towns, cities, and states are becoming hosts to the immigration debate. Through its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR is already promulgating anti-immigrant local ordinances, such as one in Prince William County, Virginia. At the same time, locally based pro-immigration organizations are reaching out to support integrating immigrants, with efforts including English language instruction and building bridges between immigrants and local police departments.

As these issues are debated in city councils, state houses, and across dining room tables, we need to ensure that Americans are getting honest facts from reputable organizations. This includes requiring the press to open the closet and look at some of the filth inside. It's really not that hard to do.

Oppenheimer: Hispanics are changing the face of U.S. politics

In today's Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer takes an honest look at this past weekend's Univision Democratic Presidential Candidate forum. In "The Oppenheimer Report", he declared the forum "the clearest evidence yet of a growing Hispanic clout that will revolutionize American politics." From the article:

I'm not exaggerating: the debate among Democratic hopefuls organized by Univisión and the University of Miami averaged 2.2 million viewers -- an extraordinary audience for a debate that was broadcast in Spanish for an ethnic group that makes up 13 percent of the U.S. population. By comparison, the CNN-YouTube Democratic debate averaged 2.6 million viewers.

What's more, while the average age of viewers of Univisión's debate was 36, the average age of the English-language debates on ABC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC viewers was 61.

"It was a tipping point in American political culture," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, a progressive think tank that advises Democrats on Hispanic issues. "This debate outperformed Univisión's wildest dreams."


But the fact is that this first Spanish-language debate sets a precedent that will be hard to ignore for Republicans, and for both parties in future presidential campaigns. And it comes after several signs of a growing Hispanic political clout. 

For more information check out NDN's new study, data from which is used in Oppenheimer's piece.

NDN at the Univision Forum

You've seen the news articles. This past weekend, we witnessed history as Univision hosted the first-ever Spanish-language Presidential forum. NDN was there and played a vital role, as our argument on the rising influence of the Hispanic electorate helped frame the event. Click on the thumbnails below for larger pictures of the events we held around the forum, as well as two pictures from the forum itself (courtesy of Univision):

For more on NDN's work on issues affecting Hispanic communities, including our efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, visit our website.

Univision debate delivers an historic audience, as one out of every ten Hispanics in the US watched Sunday's debate

Even before it happened Sunday night’s Univision debate was considered historic. It was the first time a Presidential debate specifically addressed the fast-growing American Hispanic community.

But now we know it was historic for another reason – the audience. 4.6 million of the nation’s 42 million Hispanics watched the debate, or about one out of every ten Hispanics here in the United States. The average audience for all the Presidential debates this year is 4.3 million. So this debate, targeting an audience that is at most a tenth of the American population, delivered a higher audience than the average of all the other Presidential debates this year.

If the Presidential debates this year had delivered ten percent of the American people as this debate did in the Hispanic community, they would have had audiences of 30 million. So far have delivered 4.3 million. Therefore this Univision debate delivered about 7 times the audience than these other debates did in the broader American population.

We draw two quick conclusions from this.

First, Hispanics are engaged in American politics as never before. The immigration debate of the last several years has woken this community up. Their turnout increased 33 percent from 2002 to 2006; they marched in unprecedented numbers last Spring; citizenship applications are up by at least 61 percent from last year; and now we have these incredible Univision numbers.

Second, it shows the growing cultural and political importance of Spanish-language media. Today a majority of Hispanic adults living in the United States were born outside the US and grew up with Spanish as their primary language. Our estimate is that about half of all Hispanic voters are immigrants, meaning that today at least 4 percent of the American electorate still uses a great deal of Spanish in their daily lives. These demographic trends are behind our recent NPI New Tools paper, “Speak in Spanish,” which you can find here.

Finally, as you consider the import of the historic audience delivered by the Univision debate Sunday night, consider the following facts about the growing power of Spanish-language media, and of course, the immigrant Hispanic community itself:

  • The local newscast of Univision, the most watched Spanish-language television network, is the number one local newscast in 16 markets, including Albuquerque, El Paso, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and San Francisco.
  • In the last TV season, Univision beat the 4 major networks – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – in primetime, in the most coveted demographic, 18-34 year olds, 31 times. In any Spanish-language TV reaches 80% of the Hispanic community.
  • In 2006, driven by millions of Spanish-language viewers on Univision, the 2006 the World Cup Final (soccer) drew twice the viewers of the average NBA Finals game.
  • Spanish language radio is now the 3rd most listened to radio format in America. A LA-based Spanish-language morning talk show host, El Piolin, has been perhaps the single most important mobilizer of the Hispanic community in recent years.
  • Univision’s recent sale price of $11 billion was just a little less than the recent sale prices of Chrysler and the Wall Street Journal combined.

Congratulations to Univision and the University of Miami for making history in more ways than one.

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