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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

THE ELECTION IS OVER. We have our first class this week (and our last class blog entry assignment) knowing who will lead our nation now and the most obvious question to ask is WILL CHANGE HAPPEN IN IMMIGRATION WITH THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION?

Although economic concerns reduced immigration issues to nearly a "nonissue" by the time the presidential campaign drew to a close (when last year it was arguably THE most important issue, second only to the war in Iraq), political experts believe it was largely responsible for the record turnout of Latino voters Tuesday, 66% of whom supported Barack Obama.

According to national exit poll results analyzed by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 32% of Latinos voted for John McCain, in spite of his track record as a proponent of immigrant-friendly reforms (remember last years McCain-Kennedy bill, losing 60-64 last June?). That total represents a significant drop from what President Bush received in 2004, receiving between 40% and 44% of the Latino vote that year and 35% in 2000...

But the heated immigration debate that dominated headlines two years ago, when hundreds of thousands marched in cities across the country and demanding CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform) may have been the catalyst that sent Latinos to the polls. WAS IT BECAUSE OF THEIR DESIRE TO EFFECT CHANGES IN OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM?

A large number of Latino voters this year were casting ballots for the first time, suggesting that efforts by national and local Latino organizations to encourage legal residents to become U.S. citizens and participate in the political process paid off, AP concludes.

Interestingly, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced right after the election that 1,051,640 people became U.S. citizens between Oct. 1 of last year and Sept. 30, setting a record. we shall soon see whether Most of them who were able to vote--most likely voted for Obama.

The nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials estimates that between 9.6 million and 11 million Hispanics voted in the election, compared to a U.S. Census estimate of 7.6 million in 2004. Latinos comprised 9 percent of all voters this year, compared to 7 percent in 2004, according to Associated Press exit polls.

Nationwide, the AP polls suggested about two-thirds of Latino voters chose Obama over Republican John McCain. About three-fourths of Hispanics under the age of 30 supported Obama.

In Florida, where President Bush won 56% of the Latino vote in 2004, Obama earned 57% of the Hispanic vote to McCain's 42%. Obama won three-fourths of Latino votes in Nevada, and nearly 7 in 10 favored him in New Mexico, where he would have lost without them, according to a recent AP story.

Gone are the significant inroads by Bush among Hispanic voters (Take a look at our blog spot from last year, below). Bush won over many in 2000 by saying he would build a solid relationship with Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico. Their relationship later soured, AP correctly points out.

In 2004, Bush won 40% of the Hispanic vote.

So a more obvious question to ask is: HAVE HISPANIC VOTERS CREATED A NEW ELECTORATE MAP? If so, and immigration may be the most important political issue for Hispanics now, then by simple deduction, majors changes in immigration are coming...

-Christopher Helt, Esq.

Aida said...

To the question « Have Hispanic voters created a new electorate map?” I deeply believe that the answer is yes.

With 14 percent of the U.S. population, the Latino “minority” accounted for over 8% of the electorate in this election. “While I know how powerful a community you are, I also know how powerful you could be on November 4th if you translate your numbers into votes.” says Barack Obama on his web page dedicated to Latinos: During the campaign both Senator McCain and Senator Obama tried hard to get Latinos’ support by making appearances in front of major Hispanic organizations such as The National Council of La Raza or LULAC back in July. The courting of the Latino vote started in the early stages of the primaries. I remember how Bill Richardson’s endorsement -the Hispanic governor from New Mexico- was coveted after he dropped the race in January.

Hispanic voters created a new electorate map not only because of their growing voting population but they literally influenced the candidates’ strategies as well as the outcome in this election. Indeed, Latinos voted overwhelmingly for Obama but they also helped him carry “battleground” sates such as Colorado, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico.

For the anecdote, I was with the Obama campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the weekend of Get Out The Vote (GOTV) prior to Election Day. The main activity of GOTV is canvassing: volunteers knock on doors, ask people if they are registered to vote, if they know where their polling location is, offer them a ride to the polls… Local organizers in Milwaukee had a “code” for Hispanic neighborhoods –they were colored purple on a map of the city-. On November 1st, I went with one of the other Chicago interns in one of the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. As a second-generation immigrant, my friend is fluent is both languages, which made her an incredible asset for the campaign. We had also had campaign literature in both English and Spanish. All this to show how many efforts were made by the campaign to get the Hispanic vote: “The Latino community holds this election in its hands” (Barack Obama at the NCLR annual conference in San Diego).

1:01 PM

Teresa said...

There is a potential for a mass mobilization about immigration change. These individuals who will be the mass, who might happen to be Latino, have an important voice, but I do fear for a grouping of such a diversity of people as one unit comprised of only one race. It is dangerous for politicians to think the only issue Latinos must care about is immigration. I also don’t think it is only Latinos who are concerned about the future of immigration. We are a whole nation of immigrants from all over the world. If properly educated on our history, we all should care. As much as I have hope for Obama and this change and hope dream initiative we currently attempt to have faith in, I really don’t think his immigration policy is all that different than that of McCain. So I am unsure I claim an immigration victory in the election of Obama.

On April 5th, 2006, Barack Obama discussed the debate going on in the Senate about CIR: "It behooves us to remember that not every single immigrant who came into the United States through Ellis Island had proper documentation. Not every one of our grandparents or great-grandparents would have necessarily qualified for legal immigration. But they came here in search of a dream, in search of hope. Americans understand that, and they are willing to give an opportunity to those who are already here, as long as we get serious about making sure that our borders actually mean something."

Now, as I look up his official views on immigration on his “Blue Print for Change” website his thoughts have seemed to change (except for his thoughts on strengthening the border). With response to “bringing people out of the shadows, “Obama and Biden support a system that requires undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.” So now we tell people to go to the back of the line and jump through more hoops. Didn’t he recently say that all of our grandparents didn’t come here in a way that would have qualified for legal immigration? Did they have to jump through hoops and go to the back of this line because they didn’t qualify for one of the four ways? I am pretty sure the answer is no. My grandparents were embraced and welcomed by the Statue of Liberty into the land of promise as the weak huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Last night, I was shopping in a grocery store on Bryn Mawr. Two Mexican men behind me were buying six packs of Modelo. An angry white woman pushed past them and clearly yelled, “Excuse me.” As she finished paying and was about to walk out the door, the men were apparently in her way again. She yelled, pushed her way out the door, and clearly stated for everyone to hear, “No wonder people don’t like illegal Mexicans!” I felt discouraged and disappointed as I paid for my groceries. We really have a long way to go as a nation with concern to immigration on the small local level and the larger national level.

11:59 PM

all of the above said...

I don't have any empirical data to back this up, but re: your question about whether or not the huge immigrant marches of two years ago impacted this election, but I think the answer is definitely yes. A sign that was seen at every immigrant protest I was at and every one I saw in the media were signs that read, "Hoy marchamos, maƱana votamos" - "today we march, tomorrow we vote." I think that community organizers in the Latina/o immigrant community here have taken that slogan seriously, and have really done the groundwork that has helped lead to this huge voting shift--both in terms of registering voters and engaging Latinas/os on the issues, making them realize that an Obama vote was really in their best interests.

On the other hand, a commentator being interviewed on NPR the other day ( said that a big reason that Latinas/os voted Obama was "bread and butter issues," the economy in particular. Another NPR story talked about how the economic downturn is hurting Latino/a immigrants, both documented and undocumented, particularly badly ( Regardless of why they voted for Obama, though, I do think Latinos/as will now be seen as a more important demographic to court in US politics.

As a personal note, I have often wondered why Latinos/as have been as supportive of Republicans as they have been in the past (besides social issues--I know that many Latinos/as are fairly socially conservative). Sure, there are Republicans like McCain who have supported decent immigration reform, but there is that crazy split in the party between people like McCain and Rep. Tom Tancredo, the crazy xenophobic dude who Geraldo talks about in his book. While the Democrats certainly have their own xenophobic elements, they have not been as vocal as the Republicans'.

12:24 AM

Nikki said...

Have hispanic voters created a new electoral map?

Yes. I read in a Chilean news report just before the election that Obama reached out to the hispanic population by pitching a commercial in fluent spanish, urging the population to vote. This commercial is important for two reasons. One, that our border with Mexico is important. I believe that Obama's ability to reach out to the hispanic population helped win the battle ground states like Florida and New mexico.

Another important aspect to this commercial, was that a Chilean news reported it. I think it is important to realize that this election doesn't have implications just for hispanic people in the US, but for hispanic people in other countries, and for that matter, around the world. Obama will be the leader of the US, but also a leader for the world. When I studied abroad in Chile, I was struck by the amount of people who knew about politics in the United States. They were able to name the candidates that were nominated, and those who they sought fit to be our next president. How many of us know the president of Chile? This goes to show, that the decision of this election will continue to effected many other countries.

The media plays a huge role urging people to vote. Especially when South American countries are showing their support for a particular candidate. In the chilean newspaper, not only did they report on Obama's commercial, but Fidel Castro's support for Obama as a candidate. It is not doubt that media coverage like this will spark other hispanic voters to be apart of the politics in the United States.

1:38 AM

Dara said...

I agree that the electorate map is changing. How that will play out in changes to immigration policy will be interesting. While I believe that change is coming, I’m not sure how much and how soon it will come. In Obama’s “Blueprint for Change”, the focus on immigration reform begins and ends with illegal immigration. I have heard him speak about the usual ideas: securing borders, keeping families together and bringing people out of the shadows but not on issues outside of illegal immigration. I believe that the focus on illegal immigration is important but also limits discussions to one part of a much larger problem. Will new policy changes improve the adjustment and processing of immigrants that are out of status or in the deportation process? Will new policy changes review enforcement methods and policy for civil liberty violations? I am not clear and perhaps even a little less hopeful that the new administration will make addressing the broken system and not just the illegal immigration issue a priority. Accomplishing the proposed goals related to illegal immigration without corresponding reform to the system will result in millions of people being added the already backlogged, inefficient and dysfunctional immigration system.

Diana writes,

In response to the question of whether an Obama administration will bring immigration reform, I think it is still to be determined. Yes, Latinos came out in record numbers and voted for him and the logical answer would be that he should bring immigration reform, but I don’t think it is that easy. As a senator, he played both sides of the aisle on the issue.

Also, immigration reform is not the number one issue of Latinos. Their number one issues are similar to the rest of the electorate: the economy, education, and ending the war. However, Latinos, those who are citizens, residents and undocumented have suffered a tremendous anti-immigrant backlash which was fueled by the Republican party. I think it was in response to this backlash that Latinos came out in records numbers for Obama.

We need to see who President-elect Obama surrounds himself with and how he deals with the pressing concern of the economy. As we learned in class, immigration is a creature of politics and economics. It is becoming evident that there are other issues he’ll need to deal with before solving the immigration problem. This could become difficult for the Democratic party in general if the Latino electorate is not happy with the Obama administration when it is time for his re-election.

bosslet said...

I think that the future Obama administration will responsible for an improvement in our current immigration system but I don't think that the change that will be inacted can be considered comporable to the desired 'comprehensive immigration reform.' It appears as though the Obama campaign has chosen it's immigration policy as one of it's 'middling' policies that places their candidate in a more centralized political position to make him more attractive to moderate and more conservative voters. Of course now that the election is over I think that the rhetoric coming out of the future administration will become more and more liberal.

The change that will occur under Obama that looks most promising will likely involve the opportunity for current illegal workers to pay a fine and begin the process of normalizing their status. Unfortunately it also appears as though Obama is seeking to crack down more on workers who are currently without status. This is a clear separation from more liberal and progressive views on immigration. Further funding of the bureaucracy as well as port and border facilities is also a top priority for the Obama administration which would indicate a strong inclination to enforce current laws involving immigration.

1:51 PM
Michael said...

If this year proved to hold a greater turn out of Latino voters than before, what does that say about the issue of immigration? For me, I often hear people speak of Latinos and undocumented immigrants as if they’re one and the same, as if to be Hispanic in the US implies you are here illegally regardless of where you were born or what citizenship you hold. As Geraldo Rivera said in his book when an angry critic told him to go home to wherever he came from, he responded by pointing out that he was born in Harlem, NY. When the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials estimates that between 9.6 million and 11 million Hispanics voted in the election, this goes to show that when we speak of the Hispanic minority in the US, we are not necessarily referring to border hopping illegals as is often portrayed. This great turn out of voters who come from Latino backgrounds (or at least who check off the Hispanic on the voter demographic form) are no less American citizens than those who come from Irish, Italian or even Chinese backgrounds. In my opinion, the fact that American citizens who have Latino heritage and are expressing their political interest in this country proves that the electoral map is changing. I suppose I tend to be an optimist and idealist in situations like these, but I hope to see this participation in a national, united event such as this as a sign of integration. Again ideally speaking, I’d also like to see demographic reform so that by identifying yourself in one way or another wouldn’t also immediately stigmatize you or make you no more than a number for one group or the next. I think citizens of the United States should be able to cast a vote for their preferred candidate without worrying about how it will affect the demographic, census or question their status as an American.

Tania said...

Like most of my classmate I believe that the electoral map is changing or better yet, last week elections proved that it has already change.

During the first semester of this year i was studying abroad in Mexico and I was able to see for myself how most people in Mexico were interested in the elections.

Most people that I talked to wanted obama to win not only because they home for a new immigration reform but mostly becuase of the ecenomy. The Economy was for both mexicans leaving in Mexico and mexicans leaving in the United States one of the most important issues. There is a saying in Mexico that "si a E.U.A le da gripa a Mexico le da pulminia" -if the U.S.A gets a cold than Mexico gets pneumonia' this refers to any financial crisis faced by the U.S.A

3:50 PM

AnnaW said...

Will change happen in immigration with the Obama administration?
It is clear that some change will occur under the Obama administration in terms of immigration reform, but how much and what kind of change is unclear. Obama voted YES on comprehensive immigration reform, voted NO on declaring English as the official language of the US government, voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security, votes YES on establishing a Guest Worker program, voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship, supported the DREAM Act for the children of illegal immigrants, and voted YES on continuing federal funds for declared “sanctuary cities”; yet he also voted YES on buliding a fence along the Mexican border, and wants there to be a high penalty fee that illegal immigrants have to pay in order to be able to stay and get in the back of the line for citizenship.

Obama is definitely a proponent of stronger border security and wants to require that undocumented workers go to the back of the line so they do not get citizenship before those who applied legally. He believes that illegal persons should not be able to work in the US; therefore, there needs to be a push to crack down on employers who are hiring illegal immigrants and are taking advantage of them.
Obama is pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in a country where the immigration system is broken; it is going to take a while for any of the policies, be they good for immigrants or bad, to be implemented.

3:56 PM

Zubeyir said...

It seems like Diana outlined what I would say about the issues we are discussing. Having said this, I think that we still need to see what Obama will actually do with the immigration policy. We like most others expect that Obama presidency will be relaxing for the immigrant at least in comparison to 8 years of Bush administration which was fostered anti-immigrant sentiments and policies. That, I think, effected the ways many immigrant voted and Latino community is no exception. I have heard that Muslim immigrants had voted for Bush in 2000 election because of his conservative policies regarding issues of family and morality. However, they voted against him in 2004 simply because of the hardships Muslims encountered during his first term of presidency.

However, I don't think that Latino community was only and primarily concerned with immigration policies like Muslim immigrants. Again, this is not to say that they were not concerned with issues of immigration. Issues of immigration is only among many factors that affected voting behaviors of Latino community. I agree with Diana that they mostly voted on the basis of their economic concerns as 8 years of Republican administration fell behind economic prosperity of Clinton administration. Obama's call for change appealed and reached to Latino communities as they wanted to see a more prosperous future. I think that Latino communities, in this regards, show that they are less bounded with ideological issues when it comes to the decision of whom to vote. They mostly voted for Bush in 2004, if I am not wrong, and they turned to Obama in 2008. That, I think, indicates that Latinos will not hang on to Obama no matter what. What matters most is their, like many others', economic well-being. Who ever seems more promising in that regard will get the majority Latino votes unless they show sarcastic anti-immigrant sentiments.

10:53 PM