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Control of the presidency, Congress will impact Latino community

By Frank X. Moraga

DREAM Act, comprehensive immigration reform, education and jobs among top issues

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. A day to look forward to.

Silenced will be the annoying “I approve this message” campaign advertisements on television, the latest poll results, the robo-calling from candidates and a variety of other methods politicians use to get their point across.
Campaign 2012 will be officially over.

But for the Latino community, the end of the campaign season brings with it a number of questions about issues that impact them directly: comprehensive immigration reform, the future of the DREAM Act, and the election’s impact on education, health care, jobs and other issues.

Much has been at stake during the election, with each side vowing to fight for their campaign promises during the next four years. Not only did the nation decide on who would be the president, a choice between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney; the control of the U.S Senate was also up for grabs.

If President Obama is re-elected, he will still have a very tough time trying to convince hardline Republicans in the Senate to work with him, said José Marichal, associate professor of political science at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

“It will be the same as before. In the Senate they will still have more than 41 votes, still a filibuster-proof major- ity,” said Marichal, who has written the book “Facebook Democracy: The Architecture of Disclosure and the Threat to Public Life.” “During the past two years they have taken the tack that ‘all we have to do is play defense.’ Any party would implement that tack if they could.”

Marichal said the conservative Tea Party element is very united and disciplined and their numbers may only grow in the 2014 election cycle as they challenge another round of moderate Republicans in the southern states.

“If Romney gets elected, he may have some more wiggle room, but if the Democrats lose control of the Senate they will look at what the Republicans did” with the filibusters and do the same thing, he said.

Mainstream Republicans see the need to pass some sort of comprehensive immigration reform because of the growing voting clout of Latinos.

“Both parties are not dumb. They know Texas and Arizona will become swing states” because of their growing Latino populations, Marichal said. “Colorado wasn’t a swing state but is one now. The Republican Party would love nothing better than to do comprehensive immigration reform, but the party is not controlled by the establishment, but by the right wing, Tea Party element.”

Marichal is pessimistic in the short term, but sees a glimmer of hope in the future.

“It’s a grim time,” he said. “But it can’t stay like this forever. The (Latino voting) trends favor the Democrats so I think we will have a more moderate Republican Party.”

Latino students at CSU Channel Islands are very concerned about the results of the presidential election and the future of President Obama’s executive order (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that allows children of those who entered the United States illegally to remain in the nation without fear of deportation for two years.

“I work with many students here on campus that were very happy about Obama’s deferred action on immigration,” said José Alamillo, associate professor of Chicana/o Studies at the university. “For many of these folks there is a great hope he will be re-elected. Otherwise, Romney would just rescind DACA and they won’t be able to find jobs.”

Students are also hopeful that an Obama second term will finally lead to comprehensive immigration reform, as well as continuing to rethink and promote the nation’s education system, moving away from the testing programs of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” to the “Common Education Standard,” Alamillo said. “It’s definitely a more holistic approach,” he said.

If Obama wins, Alamillo hopes the president will be more forceful with Congress. “A second term will be a mandate for Obama and with this being his last term he has nothing to lose,” he said. “With immigration reform, he has to show more leadership. Obama needs to show more backbone.”

Hank Lacayo, longtime labor leader and senior citizen advocate, said he is looking into his crystal ball and making his presidential prediction based on his 60 years of being involved in politics.

“Obama deserves our vote and I give the president an edge on getting re-elected,” he said. “It would be easier for him during a second term to have a Congress that would cooperate with him.”

However, Lacayo believes Obama has learned some valuable lessons during his first term and will use them to his advantage when dealing with Congress during the next four years.

But no matter who is running for office, Latinos need to be part of the system, he said.

“Whomever they are going to vote for, they need to come out to vote,” Lacayo said. “We are slowly gaining (political power) and we can make a difference.”

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