Arizona

New Policy Institute Releases New Report, "Hispanics Rising, 2010"

Yesterday, our affiliate New Policy Institute released a report by Andres Ramirez and Kristian Ramos on the rapid increase of the Hispanic population, fueled by recent waves of immigration to the United States.  You can find the Executive Summary here and the full report here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at ssanchez@ndn.org.

Hispanics Rising 2010 Executive Summary

Hispanics Rising 2010 Full Report

Thanks!

Right Leaning Arizona Republic Condemns New Immigration Law

EJ Dionne found this nugget from an Arizona Republic editorial on the new law:

The broad anti-immigrant bill passed by the Legislature this week makes it a crime to be in the country illegally and gives local cops the job of demanding documentation if they have reasonable suspicion someone lacks it.

The need to carry proper ‘papers’ falls squarely on Arizona's Latino population -- including those born and raised in the Grand Canyon State. The bill invites racial profiling and ignores the fact that Latinos are an intrinsic part of Arizona's history and its future. Arizona's senators should know that.

The bill . . . is bringing thundering bad publicity that will echo for years to come. It will lead to lost economic-development opportunities, lost tourism and lost opportunities to expand our trade and commercial ties with Mexico.

As those who have seen the remarkable documentary film, 9500 Liberty, the people of Arizona do have every reason to be concerned about the long term impact to their state.   As this film, which will be premiering in Arizona this weekend (more on that soon), documents, the cost to a local DC county in Virginia of implementing similar statute was economically and culturally devastating.

For those in the Boston area, 9500 Liberty is screening today at the Boston Independent Film Festival.  See it if you can.  It is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.

Of course all this just goes to remind us how important it is that the Federal government acts to fix our broken immigration system.  Soon. 

And to learn more about the growing power of the US Hispanic population, watch or attend our event in DC this Tuesday.

In Arizona, History Repeating

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is poised to sign the toughest immigration bill in the country.  It is intended to terrify Arizona's undocumented immigrants, but the consequences of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 aren't limited to any one community. SB 1070 attacks and demeans the civil rights of every hard-working, tax-paying American citizen.  And like every piece of Draconian legislation before it, SB 1070 has the potential to ignite and empower the very community it seeks to disable.

On its face, SB 1070 is bad and impractical policy: the legislation makes it a misdemeanor for foreign nationals to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona.  But since it's impossible to identify a foreign national by sight, it effectively mandates that all individuals in Arizona carry papers.  That's right: you, American citizen, can't walk your dog or buy milk from the grocery store without having papers on you that confirm your legal residence.  If you take your kids to the park and forget your documentation at home, you can be held in police custody until your information is verified, even if you're a U.S. citizen.

The legislation directs police officers to inquire as to immigration status on a "reasonable suspicion" that a person might be undocumented.  Forget that this turns local police into immigration enforcers, and that the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the bill, contending it will likely erode already waning trust with immigrant communities.   What exactly does reasonable suspicion look like?  Driving the wrong car?  Having the wrong haircut?  Speaking to your children in Spanish?  How many Latinos could be reasonably suspected of not belonging?

The passage of this legislation will have a devastating impact on Arizona, but those realities will pale in longevity to the political consequences of Governor Brewer making it law.  The House vote on SB 1070 divided along partisan lines: all 35 ayes came from Republicans, and all 21 nays came from Democrats (four Democrats did not vote).  Although the frustration and anger of Arizona's immigrant, Latino and activists communities will likely spill over to the national Democratic leadership, which is perceived as being ineffective in getting the job done on comprehensive reform, history teaches us that the real political downfall will be Republicans', and Republicans' alone.

In 1994, California Republicans led a fight to pass Proposition 187, the "Save Our State initiative," which was designed to prohibit undocumented immigrants' access to social services, health care, and public education.  Just as with SB 1070, Prop 187 smacked of xenophobic motives, and just as with SB 1070, it was introduced and promoted by Republicans, including Republican Governor Pete Wilson.  And just as the Republican Party's advocacy for Prop 187, and its galvanizing affect on the state's Latinos (augmented - of course - with a gold-standard voter registration campaign) marked the decline of the party's fortunes in California, passage of SB 1070, if matched with proper organizing, will define the political legacy of the Arizona Republican Party.

In the short term, Governor Brewer signing her name to this legislation will likely help her maintain support within her party, but in the long term, she will go down in history as the executor of the Arizona Republican Party's demise.

This is cross-posted from Latinovations blog.

Teachers and Schools Urgently Need Immigration Reform, Too

Yesterday we received news that Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in Pima County, AZ is calling for all schools to answer questions that would effectively turn them into immigration police.  Dupnik wants schools to ask their students whether they are in this country legally.  Even though this idea has been rejected by the Arizona and U.S. Supreme court in the past, the fact that it is even being considered is dangerous.  There is much at stake for teachers in stopping Dupnik and any other sheriff who supports similar measures - schools receive funding based on the number of students per school (regardless of their legal status).  Consequently, the number of teachers hired by schools is based on the size of the student body (again, regardless of the students' legal status).  If we begin inquiring about legal status in schools, we can expect to see panic take over families, communities, and kids will stay home.  If these children stop going to school, the most hurt by this will be teachers, as state and federal funding to schools will decrease in proportion to the number of kids who stay home. 

Luckily, not all Arizona border sheriffs support the idea.  Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said schools "can't afford" to do this.  It is estimated that 60,000-65,000 of the 1.2 million students in Arizona schools are not in the country legally.  This translates to 5.4% of the student population.  If Arizona schools lose 5.4% of the student population, their budget and resources will dimish accordingly, which will make it likely that the schools will also have to sacrifice 5.4% of their teachers.

We will continue to see localities try to grapple with dealing with our broken immigration system until the federal government passes comprehensive immigration reform.

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Saturday roundup - McCain, immigration, the Senate and Superdelegates

Some am thoughts at this exciting time:

Picking a Democratic Nominee - I may be niave, but somehow I think the current process will end up picking a nominee without the Democratic Party having to do extrarordinary things. If one candidate emerges by mid-March as stronger than the other, the pressure on the weaker one to get out will be so great that the race could just end. The Superdelegates will begin to break towards the stronger one, ratifying the will of the voters. A deal with be struck to seat Florida and Michigan. Markos proposes a 50/50 split - not a bad idea. But we agree with Bob Kerrey these states should not have a voice in picking the nominee, and that the rules are the rules. In this year of all years - when we've seen unprecedented citizen involvement in politics - it is critical that the Party of the People not once again become the Party of the Smoke Filled Room.

For more on the history of how Democrats ended up with this crazy system read the Post's Ruth Marcus's excellent overview.

But of course this puts all eyes on the March 4th states of Ohio and Texas. If Obama wins both these states, or perhaps even one of them, I think he will win the nomination. If that night somehow Hillary ends up winning the night, either by winning one and drawing in another or winning both, she could be back in this thing. This next period - with 2 debates - Wisconsin. Ohio and Texas is for all the marbles. And with Clinton holding large leads in both the big March 4th states, the drama is can Barack - with his financial edge and the power of his personal appearances - catch up? For those of political junkies, the upcoming rallies, speeches and debates are going to be must sees CSpaners as both Obama and Clinton understand the make or break importance of these critical states and will giving it their all.

The Hispanic Vote so far - If you haven't read it, check out NDN's new study on the Hispanic Vote in 2008. It has some dramatic results, and all sorts of bad news for John McCain and the GOP. If you want to see the study's author in person, come to our event this Wed in DC featuring Joe Trippi, Amy Walter of Hotline and Andres Ramirez, the director of Hispanic Programs at NDN.

Will McCain quit the Senate? - Josh Marshall has been asking the question. I think McCain will quit the Senate and run his campaign from Arizona, right in the middle of the hugely important swing region of the Southwest. For McCain being in DC will complicate his life and make it even less likely he wins. The Democrats will use the Senate to tie him down, interrupt his fundraisers, make him take tough votes. He will have to work much more closely with the very failed Washington GOP, which has given him a recession, a declining middle class, the worst foreign policy mistake in American history, unprecedented levels of corruption and cronyism, and no progress on key issues like climate change, health care and immigration. The more tied McCain is to this era of American history the less likely he is to win, and my guess is that by mid-March he will be trailing the Democratic frontrunner by high single digits or more. So he will have to go, to change the dynamic of what may very wll be a losing campaign. And besides Arizona is a good place to retire to.

The interesting question is if McCain quits the Senate what will Barack do? Running for President from Washington is no easy thing, particularly in this year of "change."

McCain, Hispanics and Immigration - I've gotten questions from the press this week about McCain and immigration, suggesting that given his leadership on immigration reform won't he be able to get back to Bush numbers with Hispanics, and put the heavily Hispanic swing states - AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV - out of play for the Democrats.

There is no question that McCain was a leader on immigration reform. But in 2007 when his bill was brought back up by the a newly elected Democratic Senate (it passed a GOP controlled Senate in 2006) McCain was nowhere to be found. Spooked by his early primary stumbles, McCain distanced himself from his own bill, and forced Democrats to negotiate with GOP leaders like John Kyl who had opposed the bill in 2006. The end result of McCain's betrayal of his own bill was without the bill's author, the bill collapsed and progress on fixing our broken immigration system stopped. In a recent interview on Meet the Press, McCain even suggested he would no longer vote for his bill if it came up.

So can McCain claw his way back with Hispanics, given how far his Party has fallen with them? Perhaps, but given his betrayal on this critical issue, his connection to the deeply unpopular Bush, his lack of any real plan for universal health coverage and his strong support of the war (Hispanics are and have been more against the war than the public at large), I think the decision McCain made to walk from his own bill in 2007 to appease GOP primary voters managed to both get him nothing with the anti-immigrant wing of his own Party while at the same time tossing away any chance he had of getting his necessary share with Hispanic voters in 2008.

Update: MSNBC's First Read has a must read account of a conference call today with Harold Ickes of the Clinton campaign, where, among other things, he makes the case for why the election results in Florida and Michigan need to be counted even though as a member of the DNC he voted to strip them of their delegates thus nullifying the results of their elections.

Update 2: TNR's Jonathan Cohn also condems the Clinton Florida and Michigan play, and Josh Marshall captures the anger many feel at the recent wave of Clintonian threats to play games with the system.

The battle for Hispanics is joined

For more than two years Hispanics in the United States have been subject to the most racist attacks that we've seen in the American public square in many years. It has been a shameful episode in our history, and something I am proud that NDN has been a leader in fighting these past few years.

As Peter Leyden and I wrote recently in our article, The 50 Year Strategy, Hispanics - along with the emerging Millennial generation - are one of two new demographic groups that were not a major part of our 20th century politics, but are poised to reshape politics in the 21st. And I think we will look back on this week as the week in 2008 that Hispanics were transformed from a community villified by many elected leaders and members of the media to one of the most sought after communities in American politics, a condition that I believe will now be the way Hispanics are treated for the remainder of this critical election year.

I offer four observations about this emerging, and historic, battle for the Hispanic community:

The rise of Hispanics is changing the American electoral map - The nationalization of the Presidential race takes off this week with Super Duper Tuesday now just six days away. As the Presidential goes national now, the candidates of both parties will be forced to speak to Hispanics, the fastest growing part of the American electorate, the largest minority group, and a group heavily concentrated in five of the most critical general election swing states in 2008 - AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV (see NDN's recent report Hispanics Rising for more on this). Given the likely 2008 electoral map it is not an overstatement to say that Hispanics may hold the key to the Presidency in 2008.

Seven of the Feb. 5th states have heavily Hispanic populations - AZ, CO, IL, NJ, NM, NY and CA, the big prize. So when you add in the Nevada Democratic Caucus, it is fair to say that never before in American history will Hispanics have had such influence in picking a nominee for President than in 2008.

As of this morning both the Clinton and Obama campaigns have released new Spanish-language ads in Feb. 5th states. Obama and his surrogates are now playing hard in the Southwest this week, having released a new Spanish-language phone banking tool, and are now invoking a storied and revered family in the Hispanic community - the Kennedys - into the campaign to counter the power of the Clinton name. Both parties will debate over the next two nights in Southern California, one of the most heavily Hispanic regions of the country. The debate is sure to provide interesting insights into the state of the immigration debate. (Reminder: Romney and Huckabee have called for the forced removal of the 11-12 million undocumenteds).

This modern approach to the growing Hispanic population was pioneered by Republicans, specificially George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, something they brought to the national Republican Party from Texas and Florida. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, this modern strategy helped the GOP win those five critical general election states - AZ, CO, FL, NM, NV - all won by Clinton in the 1990s - whereas the Kerry campaign simply did not run a serious Hispanic campaign or adequately target these regions. The GOP was working off of a 21st century strategy in this case, the Democrats a 20th century one. And using this modern stategy the GOP doubled their market share with Hispanics in just two elections, and used it to win the Presidency twice.

Interestingly, the positions of the two parties has been largely reversed in recent years. Both Obama and Clinton are now running fully engaged Hispanic campaigns; both support comprehensive immigration reform and have treated the new immigrant population with respect; the Democrats fielded the first serious Presidential candidate of Hispanic descent; they put their Convention in the Southwest, a nod to this new map; and gave a heavily Hispanic state, Nevada, a privileged place in its nominating process; and all Democratic candidates participated in the historic Univision debate in Miami, the first debate in American history conducted largely in Spanish. At a strategic level Democrats have discovered the power of the Hispanic vote and the new map it brings. For them there is no going back.

The Republicans, however, through their recent racist rhetoric and demonization of Hispanic immigrants, have abandoned the modern strategy Bush brought them. Last year they blocked the bi-partisan Senate immigration reform bill, after blocking it in the House in 2006; they were very late to accepting the Univision debate invitation and skipped most of the major non-partisan Hispanic conferences widely attended by the Democrats; their Hispanic immigrant chairman Mel Martinez resigned this year over his Party's approach to Hispanics; and they all but skipped the NV Caucus. This is a very different picture, and one, as Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson has pointed out, that may cost their Party the Presidency in 2008 and beyond.

In the Democratic Primary Clinton is leading with Hispanics, and deservedly so - Despite powerful labor endorsements for Obama in NV, Sen. Clinton won the Hispanic vote there 68-24%. An incredible performance. She also leads in available polls in this community by a similar margin in the upcoming Feb. 5th states. Hillary's strength with Hispanics comes from two sources. First, there is great fondness for the Clintons in the Hispanic community. In the Clinton Presidency, jobs were much more plentiful and there was little national racist anger towards their community. For Hispanics, things were simply much better when Bill Clinton was in charge. Second, Senator Clinton has made speaking to Hispanics a priority in her campaign from day one: Her campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle is Hispanic; she has the most respected Hispanic strategist in the nation, Sergio Bendixen, running her Hispanic campaign; she has received support from most of the major leaders of the Democratic Hispanic establishment, including Senator Bob Menendez, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros; and despite her waffle on drivers licenses, she has held the line on comprehensive immigration reform. I fully expect her to receive a strong majority of the Hispanic vote on Feb 5th - and if it happens, she clearly deserves it.

Obama has been late to mount a credible campaign in the Hispanic community, but is now fully engaged - One of the great strategic mysteries of this incredible campaign has been the Obama campaign's late engagement in this community. Until a few weeks ago it was hard to even determine if Obama had any Hispanic effort at all. But that was yesterday, and today the Obama campaign - perhaps because of their performance in NV - has become fully engaged. They have ads up on the air; they continue to gain key endorsements (Reps. Gutierrez, Becerra, and Linda Sanchez); Obama and his surrogates are spending a lot of time in the Southwest prior to Feb. 5th; and the campaign now has a very potent weapon in the revered Kennedy name, an endorsement that may cut into the huge advantage HRC has with older Hispanics.

One of the most interesting things to watch for on Feb 5th is what happens with younger Hispanics. As we know, Obama has soared with younger voters, and the Hispanic population is very young. These young Hispanics were a critical driver of the large pro-immigrant rallies and demonstrations in the Spring of 2006. There were many stories about students organizing themselves for these rallies through text messaging campaigns on their cell phones. Will this younger Hispanic vote turnout and go Obama? How will the perception of intolerance the Clintons have shown towards African-Americans cut with this group, a generation much less accepting of intolerance of any kind? Will Obama's new and intense Hispanic campaign in the Hispanic community be able to, in just a week, cut into HRC's big lead?

We will find out next Tuesday.

The McCain factor. Of all the candidates the GOP could have nominated, Senator McCain has the greatest capacity to repudiate the recent racism of the GOP and mount a serious campaign in the Hispanic community this fall. He is from the Southwest and has a long history with Hispanics: He was a powerful advocate for immigration, even attaching his name to a bill with the liberal lion Ted Kennedy, a bill that became the framework for all immigration reform legislation these last three years. If he goes on to win the Republican nomination it will do a great deal to hush the more exteme elements of his party that are demonizing immigrants, and it will show that the Republican Party has come to embrace the assimilation of the undocumented population. His position will allow him to run a fully engaged campaign in the Hispanic community, making it likely that we will see more money spent and more attention given to Hispanics in the 2008 general election than ever before in American history. From this critical vantage point I've always believed McCain to be the strongest GOPer the Democrats could face - we already saw the potential impact of McCain's relationship with Hispanics as it was their votes last night that delivered Florida.

But as this post below reflects, what is also true about John McCain is that in 2007, at a critical moment in the debate over the immigration bill that he was the primary author of, he did not stand and fight - he cut and ran. Spooked by his reception in the GOP primary at that time, McCain simply walked away from the Senate immigration debate in 2007. And his abandonment of the bill at that critical juncture was perhaps the single most important factor in the collapse of the Senate bill last year. So while it is true that McCain has a strong history on this issue, and in this community, the story of his advocacy of immigration reform and on behalf of Hispanics is as much one of cowardice as it is courage.

So, whatever the outcome of this coming campaign, let us all mark 2008 as the year Hispanics officially became a potent force in American politics.

Sat Update: New York Magazine's John Heilemann has an excellent new piece on the importance of Hispanics to both the primaries and the general.

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