Hispanic / Latino

The immigration battle continues

One of the most consequential battles NDN and its family took on in 2006 was the intense battle over immigration. I am very proud of the role we played, fighting hard and hanging tough for a bi-partisan bill that would go a long way to solving this vexing national problem. For more on our advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform, visit www.ndn.org/immigration.

The battle, of course, isn't over. The perception that the Republican effort to use immigration as a blunt instrument to beat up on Democrats in tough races backfired has created additional momentum for what was called the McCain-Kennedy approach. We are working with their offices, and the organized coalition, and plan to make this a major priority in 2007. I am optimistic that significant reform will pass both chambers and be signed by the President this year, but it is not assured. Thus we must continue to push, and push hard.

A few articles in recent days capture some of the early thinking on the icoming mmigration battle. The Hill has a piece today about Latino mobilization for 2007 passage of a bill. The Boston Phoenix had a very interesting piece about the 2006 elections, that included this quote from me:

Which is why this year’s immigration debate was about much more than race and nationality, suggests Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network in Washington. It was, he thinks, part of an even more fundamental decision to accept or reject the modern world — a world filled with people of different nationalities, languages, tastes, and sexual preferences.

By calling for the mass deportation of Latinos and the building of a wall to keep them out, “The Republicans may have made a decision not to be a political party of the 21st century,” Rosenberg says.

And from this piece from Cox News:

Rosenberg said his party can build on the momentum it gained among Hispanic voters in the past election. "If Democrats want to take advantage of the opportunity that we now have with Hispanics, we have to pass immigration reform this year," he said.

There are many good reasons why immigration reform should pass.  The most important, and the reason we will be fighting again, so hard, this year, is that it is simply the right thing to do. 

More soon.

Problems at USCIS show us once again that the system is broken

The Washington Post reminds us of an extremely important problem emerging on the horizon for immigration services. If Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will find itself on the receiving end of an incredible surge of applications for legal residency. "Responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities," the USCIS is already unable to manage its existing work. Adding the applications of 12 million undocumented immigrants and you've got even more chaos. Shockingly, outside reviews concur with those conducted internally by the USCIS:

A report released Dec. 20 by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner cited a long list of setbacks and concurred with internal USCIS reviews that the bureau "lacks the processing capacity, systems integration and project management resources needed to manage a potential increase in workloads.

So the USCIS knows it has problems, Homeland Security knows it has problems, and now we know it has problems, but who will fix it? [Enter the 110th Congress...?]

The immigration system is broken and a comprehensive solution is the only way it will get better. NDN knows this, the President knows it, and many others know it. We need Congress to step in so that the entities in charge of these applications are funded and managed properly so that people can have a path (albeit a long one) to citizenship.

Gov. Richardson delivers speech on Immigration

A few hours ago, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson delivered a speech at Georgetown University on Immigration Reform and Border Control. Citing his achievements as Governor, as well as outlining the steps he feels should be taken, the Governor's opinions often reflected those of NDN. Enjoy the pics.



Dodd delivers Dem. Hispanic Radio Address

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) delivered the Democratic Hispanic Radio Address this past weekend. After reiterating the bi-partisan intentions of Senate Democrats, Sen. Dodd related the broader Democratic message of "a better direction" to the needs of Latinos and their families. On immigration, he highlighted the need for a comprehensive solution by saying:

As part of our effort to work on solutions to this country's most pressing problems, Democrats are committed to fixing our broken immigration system. Our country needs to strengthen security at our borders, bring millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows of our society, and restore the rule of law to our immigration system. Democrats look forward to working with Republicans to achieve real border security through bipartisan and practical immigration reform.

As you all know, NDN has advocated for comprehensive immigration reform since day one.

Mayhem over Mel?

In his statement yesterday, Simon noted that the appointment of Florida Senator Mel Martinez as RNC Chair shines light on just how much Republicans are worried about their standing with Latino voters. The press chimed in, hitting the ground running early on. The Washington Times gave us two great quotes with this piece:

Some RNC members greeted the news as another example of White House cronyism, reminiscent of President Bush's attempt to name his personal friend and general counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a nomination withdrawn in response to outrage from the party's conservative supporters.

Some RNC members yesterday saw the naming of Mr. Martinez as a continuing tendency of the Bush administration to manipulate the national party.

NDN's own Joe Garcia added the following in the Miami Herald:

''This is not only [about the] Hispanic vote short-term, this is about the Hispanic vote and how to be a viable party in the future. This is way beyond 2008. Hispanics are the fastest growing electorate and [Republicans] have been failing it.''

And Simon was quoted in Reuters and the New York Times, pointing out that the appointment brings to light the concern Republicans have that their gains within the Latino community are diminishing. Referring to Karl Rove, he notes:

“One of the greatest success stories of the early Rove era was their success with Latino voters, the president’s chief political strategist. “And that has unraveled for them this year.”

It's not looking too great for the GOP; and it gets worse, as their reaction shows...

Simon's statement on Mel Martinez

Be sure to read the statement below from Simon about Florida Senator Mel Martinez being tapped to Chair the RNC.


"The appointment of Mel Martinez as the new head of the Republican Party is an indication of how worried the Republicans are about their standing with Latino voters across the country.

After years of gains with Latinos, the fastest growing part of the American electorate, the Republicans saw a significant drop in their standing in 2006. In 2004 President Bush received at least 40 percent of the Latino vote. In this midterm it fell to 30 percent, a significant and dangerous drop.

While Latinos had the same reasons to vote against Republicans in 2006 as the rest of America, there is no question that many Latinos have grown disenchanted with the Republican Party because of what they felt was the Republican-led anti-Latino tone of the immigration debate.

If they were truly serious about rehabilitating their standing with Latinos, one area they should think about is working with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid to take quick action on passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform next year.

Appointing Mel Martinez may help Republicans communicate their message to the Spanish-speaking electorate. But it will take a change in policy not a change in personnel to win back a community that has grown terribly disenchanted with the President and his party."


NDN Hispanic Election Event - Tomorrow (Tuesday) AM

Given the significance of last week's change in the hispanic vote, NDN is hosting a snap event tomorrow morning. Its a fascinating, and electorally vital, topic. Do forward to people you think might be interested. Our invitation is below.

Immigration was one of the most hotly contested issues in the 2006 election. It is now clear that the Republican strategy to hurt Democrats with the issue failed to work in major races across the country; that it has caused a major backlash with Latino voters; and that those who are supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform come out of the election with legislative and political momentum and a very good chance to make great progress on the issue next year.

To talk more about all this, NDN has pulled together a strong panel of experts to look at what happened with the immigration issue and Latino vote in 2006, and what we might expect in 2007.

I hope you will join us next Tuesday, November 14th for an important forum on the battle over immigration and the Latino vote. The forum will be held from 8:30-10:00am at the Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 North Capitol Street, NW.


  • Frank Sharry - Executive Director, National Immigration Forum
  • Sergio Bendixen - President, Bendixen and Associates
  • Celinda Lake (Invited) - President, Lake Research Partners
  • Cecilia Munoz (Invited) - Vice President Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, National Council of La Raza


  • Joe Garcia, Director of NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center

Please RSVP to tleaman[at]ndn[dot]org

Latinos rechazan a los Republicans en las contiendas de 2006

NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center sends regular updates to Spanish language media outlets about the issues and campaigns that impact their communities. The releases are reprinted in their entirety on our blog for our Spanish speaking readers, and you can read the latest below.

Washington DC - Los votantes Latinos fueron a las urnas el martes pasado y dijeron decisivamente que rechazan las políticas del Partido Republicano en todos los asuntos importantes incluyendo la guerra en Irak, la educación, la economía, y la inmigración. En varias encuestas de salida tomadas el martes, se ve que hasta un 70% de los Latinos apoyaron a los demócratas, mientras que los Republicanos solo lograron un 26% del apoyo Latino. Es mas, los Latinos participaron en numeros mas altos este año que en cualquier otro año incluyendo las elecciones presidenciales del 2004. En un análisis prelimar, se ve que un 8.5% de los votantes Latinos aparecieron a las urnas en los comicios del 2006.

"Estos resultados son increiblemente positivos para nuestra comunidad," dijo Joe García, Director del Centro de Estrategia Hispana. "Lo que hemos estado diciendo los últimos meses, se cumplió esta semana - que las políticas y las estrategias anti-inmigrantes de los Republicanos iban a causar un abandono total del Partido Republicano de parte de los Latinos y que además, iba a mobilizar a nuestra comunidad de una manera histórica."

Vean abajo dos artículos de los mas grandes medios incluyendo el Wall Street Journal y el Los Angeles Times que subrayan el hecho de que los Latinos rechazaron completamente al Partido Republicano y que se les va ser muy dificil recuperar de esta gran pérdida de apoyo entre los Latinos - la comunidad mas grande y creciente de Estados Unidos.

What a difference a day makes

As we continue to read about what led to last night's results, we constantly hear explanations framed around Iraq, the economy, and the need for change. Yet we can't forget to include, as Simon notes, one of the great examples of how the GOP lost its way: immigration reform.

In today's press conference, President Bush said that he thinks Congress has a better chance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, which he supports, with a Democratic Congress:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. On immigration, many Democrats had more positive things to say about your comprehensive proposal than many Republicans did. Do you think a Democratic Congress gives you a better shot at comprehensive immigration reform?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I should have brought this up. I do. I think we have a good chance. Thank you. It's an important issue and I hope we can get something done on it. I meant to put that in my list of things that we need to get done.

As the Weekly Standard pointed out, "If Republicans don't grab this issue, Democrats will." Judging by his comments today, the President seems to acknowledge that the Republicans had an unrealistic, malicious view of the issue and dropped the ball. It's up to the Democrats to pick it up and deliver our plan for comprehensive reform for America.

(FYI, Latinos voted with the Democrats 69-30% according to these exit polls from CNN)

The President also noted that he sees minimum wage, another issue NDN has been involved with, as another issue he can find common ground on:

Q Mr. President, I'd like to ask you, Nancy Pelosi has been quite clear about her agenda for the first 100 hours. She mentions things like raising minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, broadening stem cell research, and rolling back tax cuts. Which of those can you support, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I knew you'd probably try to get me to start negotiating with myself. I haven't even visited with Congresswoman Pelosi yet. She's coming to the Oval Office later this week; I'm going to sit down and talk with her. I believe on a lot of issues we can find common ground. And there's a significant difference between common ground and abandoning principle. She's not going to abandon her principles and I'm not going to abandon mine. But I do believe we have an opportunity to find some common ground to move forward on.

In that very same interview you quoted, one of these three characters asked me about minimum wage. I said, there's an area where I believe we can make some -- find common ground. And as we do, I'll be, of course, making sure that our small businesses are -- there's compensation for the small businesses in the bill.

NCLR poll finds Immigration driving voters to the polls

Here's the press realease from NCLR. It mentions immigration2006, which NDN is greatly involved with:


Washington, DC – Half of Latino voters say they are "more enthusiastic" about voting this year than in previous elections, according to a new poll released today by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Seventy-five percent rated their interest in the election between 8 and 10, compared to 56% in a survey conducted in late September. The survey of 1,050 registered and likely voters, which has a margin of error of + or - 3.2%, was conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies November 2-6.

"From all indications, Latinos are clearly fired up about the 2006 election. And this poll bears out what previous elections have demonstrated - that while immigration is not the Latino community's greatest concern, the issue continues to be its greatest motivator," noted Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

The survey found that education, the economy and jobs, and the war in Iraq continue to be the top concerns for Latinos, in that order. Yet, while only 9% ranked immigration as their top concern, a majority of Latinos (51%), including half of young voters, reported that immigration was the most important or one of the most important issues in deciding their vote.

"This poll shows that attempts to use immigration as a wedge issue in this election will backfire. All of the evidence suggests that candidates' positions on immigration will not make a difference with the vast majority of mainstream voters (see, for example, www.immigration2006.org), but will have a profound influence on whom Latinos will vote for today," stated Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund.

Among its findings, the survey notes the key role that Spanish-language media and nonpartisan voter mobilization efforts are playing in Get Out the Vote efforts. About half of Latino voters overall and nearly half of young Latino voters 18-24 years old have heard ads or programs on radio or television urging them to vote or to get involved politically. Most Latinos also report being contacted about voting and the election, but only about one-third recalled being contacted by either political party. "Clearly, the work of our community and dozens of other organizations is being felt at the grassroots level," said Vargas.

The survey results also suggest strong linkages between likely voters and participants in the marches and rallies last spring in support of immigration reform, especially among young Latino voters. Nearly a third (29%) of voters overall and nearly half (45%) of young voters said that they, a family member, or close friend participated in the marches.

"This extraordinary level of participation confirms that interest in the rallies and marches spread far beyond the immigrant community. That, coupled with the survey's findings of strong and growing interest among Latinos in the election, should come as a warning to those elected officials who believe that immigrant bashing is a strategy without consequence," said Murguía, adding, "Not only has that strategy been rebuffed by the broader American electorate, but Latinos are taking notice of politicians willing to malign their community just to get elected."

NCLR's data is consistent with both the poll the NDN Political Fund released in July and NDN's immigration argument.


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