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Attempts to sow distrust between Latinos and Obama won’t work this time around

LatinaLista — It wasn’t but days after the presidential showdown between Obama and Romney that everyone — from media political analysts to veteran GOP politicians — admitted, if not somewhat grudgingly or incredulously, that Obama’s win could be credited in a very large part to the Latino turnout.

Latino Inauguration Poet, Richard Blanco, was but only one Latino, among several, who shared the day with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Everbody knew, whether they went on the record or not, that the turnout was because of what Obama had done regarding DREAMer students and the belief that he would do more to fully force Congress to address immigration reform in a second term. It didn’t matter that there were those in Washington who strove to dampen Latino expectations by saying Obama would have no time for immigration reform because of the fiscal fight, from the fiscal cliff to raising the debt ceiling, between him and Congress or the sudden development of taking on the National Rifle Association over enacting a stricter gun control policy.

Instead, what the nation witnessed, was that a president with a second win under his belt is no longer striving to be the “Mediator-in-Chief” but is finally confident in his role as Commander-in-Chief. It’s the role that calls for the kind of leadership that Republicans, Latinos and fellow Democrats have blasted him in the past for not fully exhibiting, though each group has their own definition of that leadership.

Now, that Obama is showing the kind of leadership that everyone has been waiting for there are grumbles. Not surprisingly, it’s coming from Republicans. Given what he did with signing into law several provisions stipulating specific gun rules, Republicans are (naturally) on the defensive fearing what he might do about immigration reform.

So, more Republicans are either coming on board with agreeing to address immigration reform or are doing their best to make it sound like President Obama won’t fulfill his promise to the Latino community.

On an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, went so far as to say that Obama doesn’t want immigration reform.

According to Santorum:

“There’s not a single Republican up on Capitol Hill who believes he wants to get it done. They all believe … he will put [forward a] measure that the Republicans can’t accept.” When it fails to pass, Obama will “blame Republicans and then continue to drive a wedge between Republicans and Hispanics.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Santorum seems to be operating still in “Primary” mode where being negative took precedent over being truthful.

There’s no doubt that whatever the Obama administration proposes Republicans will find objectionable. That’s a given. And if the GOP responds in their traditional manner, the Obama administration doesn’t have to do anything but sit back and watch Republicans shoot themselves, yet again in the foot, when it comes to alienating themselves from the Latino community.

However, if Republicans think the best offense is to plant the seed of distrust between the Latino community and the White House, then they must not have been watching the President’s inauguration.

Though the President didn’t make as clear an intent in his speech today to do something about immigration reform as he did about climate policy, there were enough signs during today’s inauguration that underscore this administration’s intent towards the Latino community.

From Justice Sotomayor’s swearing-in of Vice President Biden to the first Latino inaugural poet to the Latino clergy who delivered both the benediction at the inauguration and closed the luncheon with the prayer after the inauguration to President Obama referring to the DREAMers in his speech, Latinos were a big part of today’s ceremony.

In fact, it seemed to some that there were so many Latinos on the inaugural stage that a joke was going around that it was a Latino inauguration.

Unlike the start of past administrations when readers have skeptically asked me if this was the time the President would do something about immigration, I’ve received no such questions this time around.

Everyone knows it’s not only the start of a new term and a President endowed with new confidence but it’s also the start of a new Latino community.

It’s not a community who is no longer politically naive or easily gullible, but one who has learned to look at the bigger picture and figure out our place in that picture and has finally learned what it takes to be heard in Washington and beyond — and, most importantly, what can be done to effect change that includes Latinos.

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