LatinaLista — Before the 2006 mid-term elections, there were some pretty angry Latino constituents.
The only trouble — they were the wrong ones.
Since 2000, politicians have been threatened with and by the Latino vote. Latino advocacy groups have used it. The media has played it up. Even the US Census by releasing reports on the rapid growth of the Hispanic population has fed into the frenzy that routinely comes up with every election.
Well, today the Pew Hispanic Center released their analysis of just how mighty the Hispanic electorate was in November of last year.
The bad news, and not unexpected – not very mighty at all.
The report says that
As a result, while Latinos represented nearly half the total population growth in the U.S. between 2002 and 2006, the Latino share among all new eligible voters was just 20%. By comparison, whites accounted for 24% of the population growth and 47% of all eligible new voters.
Of course, that disparity is attributed to the fact that the Latino population is still very young and still too many are not citizens.
Couple that with news from PRWeek that reports:
Unacculturated Hispanics, who represent 40% of the more than 42 million Hispanics in the US, still speak Spanish and consume Spanish media.
And some light is shed on why there was only a 1% percent increase among Hispanic voters â€” even after all the “Get Out the Vote” campaigns and the thousands who marched.
All in all, only 13% of the total Latino population felt strong enough to cast their votes, while 39% of whites and 27% of blacks fulfilled their civic duties.
However, there is the proverbial silver lining.
Everyone talks about the backlash that the students triggered when they marched carrying the Mexican flag instead of the Stars and Stripes.
There’s no denying that that happened, but something else happened.
Kids who normally don’t think about politics or can see how what happens in faraway Washington DC affects them were slapped in the face with a reality they never dreamed would exist in this country.
In addition, what ICE has done in the last few months since the elections has also had an impact:
Between October (2006) and June 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents captured nearly 22,000 undocumented immigrants, reports Spanish-language newspaper La OpiniÃ³n.
ICE increased its raiding teams from 18 to 75 in the past two fiscal years, as part of a national program to detain â€œfugitives.â€ By the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, the agency hopes to net double the 17,817 caught last year, says ICE assistant secretary Julie Myers.
The arrests are a â€œshow,â€ says immigration activist AngÃ©lica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). ICE wants to answer critics who say it does not enforce immigration law, so it conducts raids, she argues. The raids are concentrated in areas where immigrants lack organizations to defend themselves, Salas adds, rather than cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Though ICE says its raids target criminals with deportation orders, CHIRLA maintains that the raids sweep up bystanders.
All of these actions to rid the country of these students’ relatives, parents, neighbors and friends have an impact. They cannot help but be affected â€” and angry.
Though they were learning that the only way to change things is through the civic process, these young people learned a very valuable lesson early â€” the political will of a few can crush the political will of the majority.
With Congress not addressing immigration reform until there’s a new President in the White House, these students will have to practice a patience they are not known to possess.
But chances are that when the time is ready, they just may prove to be the ones to fulfill the prophecy of the Latino vote.