Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > How the Democratic Party can re-energize Latino voters

How the Democratic Party can re-energize Latino voters

LatinaLista — Last week, I wrote a commentary about being left unimpressed, unmotivated and uninterested in setting up any neighborhood watch parties to watch the President’s State of the Union address.


It’s not that I’m on the GOP bandwagon to derail Obama at any cost, it’s just that I’m not sure what the point is anymore in rallying my friends, neighbors or readers to heighten the pitch for someone who has so much on his plate that he thinks leaking the fact that he would be “talking” about immigration reform in his State of the Union address would suffice for actually addressing the issue with any real substance.

I’m not alone. Other parts of the country have also registered Latino voters as feeling less than enthusiastic in helping his popularity poll numbers.

Some Latina Lista readers, who aren’t in favor of immigration reform, have accused this site and others pressing Obama to really address immigration reform, as being self-centered to the detriment of everyone else in the country.

Yet, what they fail to understand is that the Latino vote was mobilized and materialized and helped this administration gain office under the promise that this president and his party would do something other than raid, arrest and deport immigrants, whose only crimes are working and living in the U.S. without the proper authorization.

Everyone understands that immigration reform is as complex, volatile and controversial as healthcare reform. Yet there were little things the President could have authorized in the interim that would not only have shown Latino voters that he meant to keep his promise but would have re-energized Latino voters in ways that an unsolicited email to form watch parties just can’t accomplish.


The president could have:

called a moratorium on raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement; or

he could have spoken about the horrendous conditions at immigrant detention centers that were uncovered by the New York Times and his plans to improve those conditions;

or he could have created a first step in re-uniting families separated by either detention or deportation;

or he could have re-classified immigrants, whose only crimes were re-entering after having been deported, as something less than a felony which prohibits them from returning to the United States for a prolonged period of time;

or he could have taken steps to bring back all the men and women who served honorably in the military but were deported once they returned to civilian life; or …

There’s a list of things the president could have done.

But nothing was done and the mood around the country among Latinos is one of disappointment and disillusionment. At the recent Latino Congreso that wrapped up a three-day conference discussing issues important to the Latino community, the sentiment was that immigration reform was already dead for 2010.

If Obama had committed himself to doing just one of the actions mentioned above, he would have been on his way to re-energizing Latino voters.


For the simple reason it would have shown that he is not just paying lip service to Latino voters but sincerely listening and acting.

In other words, Latinos are still on his radar.

The big question these days most Latinos are wondering is: Are Latinos even a blip on the screen anymore?

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  • laura
    February 1, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I agree completely. Those emails I get from Organizing for America go into my spam folder immediately.
    Latina/os are not a blip on the screen. They won’t be until we get closer to the November election date.
    Obama should have done all the things you list above. Plus: cancel the racist 287G programs which induce local police officers to racial profiling. Stop imprisoning people who have broken no law except for coming and working here without a visa. Emphasize the contributions that immigrants – with and without valid visas – have made and are making to this country, in order to counter the hate speech from so many media outlets.
    He should have done all this not to garner some votes, but because it is ethically the right thing to do.
    Since he is showing us that he values the human rights and the lives of immigrants much less than the satisfaction of bankers with their bonuses – a goal he actually is expending political capital on – we now know that we need to ignore him in standing up for what is right.
    I personally am not expending my energy on any Democratic politician unless I see proactive exertions from them for what is right. Instead, I am expending my energy to further the cause of justice and protection of the weakest.
    Sure, I’ll vote in November – but just because it is a civic duty, not because David Axelrod or President Obama have anything of substance to tell me.

  • maryelizabeth
    February 2, 2010 at 1:25 am

    I really supported President Obama in every step of the way. I even made calls for Coakley. I was more than disappointed that he only gave Immigration Reform 12 seconds. I was personally offended. You felt like you did all this work to put the man in office and he didn’t even acknowlege you. The president spoke about all the issue’s that he had on his plate and this one was clearly on his agenda (he was clearly the strongest person on Immigration Reform in the Primary Democratic Election). I am not Hispanic….I am Italian but I did not attend my local Union of address party. He just hasn’t said or done enough on this issue to energize me to go out to those Democratic party’s like I normally do. Running a campain based on CHANGE! and diversity. How can he just simple act like 12 to 30 million “undocumented” people do not exist in the US? American’s are out of jobs? Leaving 12 to 30 million in the shadows supports a CHEAP LABOR workforce for these criminal employers. To procrastinate Immigration Reform is to not address the problem with a REAL SOLUTION. Anyone who oppose’s CIR has a hidden Agenda and a love for Illegal Immigration. It is time for CHANGE on this issue.

  • cookie
    February 2, 2010 at 7:59 am

    “Or” he could have put the national interests first which is border security and enforcement by honoring the laws already in place (of which he did) instead of pandering to a certain group who’s agenda is clearly ethnically based (of which he didn’t).
    Obama knows that granting legalization to millions who have broken our immigration laws especially when jobs are scarce is not the right thing to do for our country. I fully expect him to get behind e-verify which will put an end to both the employers and the employees fraud on the job, make illegals self-deport and we will return to a nation of laws.
    I have to laugh everytime I hear “but their only crime was entering our country illegally” like it was no big deal. Well this “no big deal” has created many problems in our country and this “no big deal” warrents deportation. Are we to take away the punishment for other crimes committed by either Americans or immigrants just because some don’t like paying for them? Being deported is what happens in every country when you break their immigration laws and it is a fair punishment. When one has the gall to re-enter anyway it should be a felony.
    When are Latinos going to get behind the laws of our country and start respecting them and showing allegiance to this country first?

  • irma
    February 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I have been a Democrat since 1978, when I cast my first vote for President. I stayed home on Election Day because I could not vote Republican and knew that Barak
    Obama was wrong for the Democratic party. I knew that immigration reform would be used as bait to garner the Latino vote. I am very sorry that I was right.
    I also happen to work in biomedical
    research. Barak Obama also promised during his campaign to invest in biomedical research. Yesterday, the President proposed a 3.2% increase in federal spending for biomedical research
    for the next two years. That doesnt
    even keep up with inflation, as biomedical research suppliers typically
    raise their prices 5-10% EVERY year.
    The result is that researchers are being forced to scale DOWN their projects.
    So, the US government’s investment in biomedical research is actually go to be
    LESS than it was in the Clinton administration. Back then, the
    NIH got a real increase that kept pace with inflation and went well above it.
    Barak Obama brought no CHANGE at all,
    his inaction on immigration reform and
    investment in biomedical research is the

  • Karen
    February 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I wonder if Obama could deal with immigration through an Executive Order? I know he doesn’t have the courage to do anything like that, but didn’t Johnson issue an Executive Order to let the Cubans immigrate here in the 60s?
    Did Congress have to take a vote to let in past waves of immigrants? If you look at history, the Irish, the Germans, Italians,etc. were not wanted here, so I find it hard to believe that Congress voted to let them in.
    Immigration is just going to become a wedge issue like abortion, etc.
    As for Obama, he doesn’t seem to care about the economy and unemployment. I am afraid that the GOP will win in November because of Obama’s weakness. And we already know the GOP doesn’t care about unemployment, so things will get worse.

  • Gunther
    February 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    The blunt answer is he takes you for granted because he can take you for granted. Latinos will never vote for Republicans in large numbers; the Republicans have given up courting Latino voters. You have no where else to go, and Obama knows it. In essence, by supporting Obama massively, Latinos have made their voting block irrelevant.

  • Alonzo
    February 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    All indications are that the Democrat party is already doomed to dismissal by the voters in November. You pray to a false god.

  • cookie
    February 3, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Karen, oh so enforcing our immigration laws means that we just don’t want Latinos here, right? That’s why we are only wanting Latinos here in our country illegally deported, right? We are demanding that other illegals get to stay though, right? It has nothing to do with the fact that ALL illegals have broken our immigration laws and that deportation is the penalty for ALL illegals, right?
    Do I smell the victimhood card in the air?

  • Karen
    February 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Re: “How the Democratic Party can re-energize Latino voters”
    It’s not really their job to energize us.
    I saw a girl I went to college with on C-Span a few months ago who is now a political consultant. She was talking about Latino voters as a population “up for grabs.” According to her, whoever comes up witht the right marketing camapign will get these voters.
    All I could think to myself is that it should be up to US which party gets our vote, not them. As group, we are too passive. We should have our own leaders who can energize us and who can negotiate with leaders of both parties. Right now we have NCLR which is funded and controlled by corporations. We need to fund and staff our own group.
    As for the person who said we have made our vote “irrelevant” by voting for Obama in such big numbers, I disagree. I see no evidence that he would behave any differently if we had not voted for him. He’s thrown women and most of the rest of the Democratic base under the bus too. He’ll see how irrelevant we are in November!

  • Henrietta
    February 3, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    “I wonder if Obama could deal with immigration through an Executive Order? I know he doesn’t have the courage to do anything like that, but didn’t Johnson issue an Executive Order to let the Cubans immigrate here in the 60s?”
    Perhaps he could, but you don’t seem to realize that your so-called immigration reform would require additional billions and a huge increase in the number of investigators and immigration specialists just to handle the paperwork, billions that he cannot authorize with his signature. And you fail to understand that even if it were true that a good percentage of people would accept amnesty, it isn’t an issue that would be important to them in the voting booth, and the Democrats know it. Most people would easily give up immigration reform if their candidate was against it, but was for job growth or something else that benefited actual citizens more. And then you have the other half of the nation that really hate the idea of immigration reform. They could be counted on to actually vote. Again, the Democrats are very much aware of this. The idea that they are due to lose badly in the Congressional races in November leads them to conclude that it isn’t worth falling on your sward for Latinos who can vote and even less so for illegal aliens who can’t.
    Lastly, the drivel that somehow permitting millions of illegal aliens to stay in the country and compete with the 10 – 17 million unemployed we hear about. It doesn’t pass the smell test, particularly to the unemployed and their families.
    Get real. The reason the Democrats won’t vote for CIR is that there are countless polls from the reliable Rasmussen, Zogby, et al, that show that the majority of Americans either moderately or radically dislike the idea of amnesty. The problem with Latinos is that they cannot resist believing the least credible polls that La Raza and the immigration lawyers and advocates tout as the truth. The idea that Americans want amnesty for illegal aliens is a myth.

  • Texan123
    February 4, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I find it interesting that Latino’s did not vote for John McCain. McCain almost lost the republican nomination for his work pushing Comprehensive Immigration Reform. He actualy helped write the 2007
    CIR Bill with Ted Kennedy.
    McCain’s support for CIR cost him votes from Republican voters. Apparently it did not help much with the Latino voting block either.
    I would suggest that Obama’s overwhelming victory had more to do with his race and republican disdain for McCain than the power of the Latino vote.

  • cookie
    February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Texan, the reason that the Latino community voted for Obama is because he is a democrat for one thing. Minorities typically vote Democrat. Another thing since they considered Obama to be a minority like themselves (even though he is half white) that was another motivating factor. Even if we hadn’t had the failed Bush Administration prior to this election, Latinos would still vote for a Democrat especially if he was a minority.

  • Aaron
    February 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Hispanic progressives have bet the farm on the next elections. If Latinos vote in very small numbers this year, they will have proven that progressives have no support for their agenda within their constituency, and CIR will be permanently shelved. The Hispanic progressive movement will effectively be dead, as it will no longer have any credibility. Their advocates, including Marisa will be proven impotent to effect change. Pray Marisa, pray.

  • S. Sanchez Kitt
    February 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Agree Obama is trying to dumb down our children and communities like Bennet did in our education department in Denver. We have a chance to get someone in the U.S. Senate that will help us. He is conservative like most of our Latino communities and runs oas republican and yet he has lived and worked in Central and S. America. He is cloe to our community and is working hard to improve English for our children in his private schools he has set up for us so they can be successful. His name is Cleve Tidwell running for the U.S. Senate a serious busnessman and real leader that will help small busineses in our communities. This is our chance to have someone to fight for us and all Americans to make our country unit and be a better country. HE IS NOT A LAWYER so that is even better. We must start to promote Cleve Tidwell for the U.S. Senate and get him interviews on our radio and TV stations. He is the Latino candidate plus his wife to be is Latino I was told. That’s good…

  • cookie
    February 16, 2010 at 7:56 am

    How is electing a Latino candidate good for us non-latinos? We don’t need anymore politicians playing identity politics. We need politicians who will not pander to a certain group but instead consider all Americans in their decision making and put the best interests of our country first.

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