From Cesar Chavez to the Denver Debate: Mexican-American Voters Finally Have Their Say

Fifty years to the week after Chicano activist Cesar Chavez put Mexican Americans on the political map, their long-overdue electoral clout will be felt at Wednesday night's presidential debate

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Arthur Schatz / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Legendary Chicano civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in 1968

Last year, when Cuban Americans observed the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion against Fidel Castro’s regime, the rest of the U.S. was in on it. Over the past half-century, in fact, the Cuban community has been remarkably successful at keeping its anticommunist struggle in the American imagination. That, and the fact that it produces high voter turnout in the critical swing state of Florida — whatever your opinion of Cuban exiles, they take their civic duty seriously — have conferred inordinate political clout on Little Havana.

By contrast, few people in the U.S. know that an important Mexican-American milestone was observed on Sunday: the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Farm Workers Association in California by the legendary Chicano civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. Like the bravery displayed at the Bay of Pigs, the heroism involved in the creation of the NFWA ought to resonate especially loudly today, since immigration and the low-wage agricultural labor it’s often associated with, most of it from Mexico, have become a focal point of America’s political debate. But you’d be hard-pressed to find many people inside the Beltway who were even aware of the anniversary of Chavez’s union (which has since been folded into the United Farm Workers), let alone commemorated it. Compared with the Cuban-American lobby, Mexican-American voters often seem as invisible to Washington as a Oaxaca migrant scampering over the nighttime desert.

(PHOTOSHarvesting Labor Rights: Chavez’s UFW At 50)

That finally looks set to change in November. For once, as TIME’s Michael Scherer forecast earlier this year, Mexican Americans — who account for two-thirds of the Latino community, the U.S.’s largest minority group, and are gravely concerned about immigration reform — may prove a more important voting bloc than Cuban Americans. The key factor won’t just be their sheer numbers, although they’re enormous: while Cuban Americans represent less than 5% of the Latino electorate, Mexican Americans, who also refer to themselves as Chicanos, represent about 60% of it. But what makes the difference this year is that Mexican Americans are carrying that weight in battleground states, particularly western turf like Colorado and Nevada, that could be just as, if not more, swingin’ than Florida.

It’s appropriate, then, that the first presidential debate, on Wednesday night, will be held at the University of Denver. Latino voters are projected to make up a tenth of the Nov. 6 vote, and it’s no secret that Republican candidate Mitt Romney is in a hole with them that’s as deep as the U.S.-Mexico border is wide. Last week’s ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll showed President Obama with a near 3-to-1 advantage among Hispanics, 69% vs. Romney’s 24%. Much of Romney’s abysmal showing has to do with the hard-line immigration stance he adopted to get nominated (not that Obama has done much for immigration reform, either), and the Denver debate will be a reminder of it. Latinos make up 13% of Colorado’s electorate, and 75% of the state’s Latino population is Mexican American. That’s a big reason 87% of Colorado Latinos said during the 2010 mid-term elections that immigration was the most or one of the most important issues.

It was also the deciding factor that year when incumbent Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, confounded many pundits by fending off a strong Tea Party challenge — and it was hefty help to Obama in 2008, when he got 61% of the Colorado Latino vote and won the state. In Nevada, where Obama and Romney are in a neck-and-neck race, 15% of the electorate is Latino and 78% of the Latino population is Chicano. Obama has a 62%-to-36% lead there among Latinos that could ultimately spell the difference in a state whose economy has been one of the nation’s hardest hit.

(MORE: Obama and Romney Finally Court Latinos – and Latin America)

Even in the GOP bastion of Arizona — where Mexican Americans led the drive for statehood in the early 20th century before conservative whites came to dominate its politics — Obama is within surprising striking distance of Romney, thanks to the fact that 30% of the population is Latino, as are 18% of the voters. Arizona’s Latino bloc is overwhelmingly Mexican American — and the state’s draconian new immigration laws, as well as a legislative campaign to boot Chicano studies from schools, have pushed it just as overwhelmingly into Obama’s camp.

(PHOTOSPolitical Photos of the Week, Sept. 20-27)

The caveat for both parties, of course, is registration and turnout, the historical banes of the Mexican-American vote. In New Mexico, for example, Latinos, just about all of whom are of Mexican origin, represent almost half the state’s population but accounted for less than a third of its voter turnout in 2010. Still, as the New York Times noted on Sunday, that situation could improve significantly in 2012. (The state is considered a lock for Obama.)

All of which points to a breakthrough for Chicanos this year, especially if Obama, their preferred candidate, wins. But either way, the new clout is vindication for a community too long disregarded in this country (which, in fairness, is also due to historically ineffectual Mexican-American political leadership, Chavez being an exception). After chafing under labels like illegal aliens and wetbacks, Chicanos have finally emerged as swing voters as influential as Cubanos. That was underscored last month when two Mexican Americans — María Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos, co-anchors at the Spanish-language Univision network and two of the U.S.’s best journalists in any language — grilled Obama and Romney on America’s immigration debacle, and when Democratic San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro became the first Chicano to deliver the keynote address to a national political convention.

Just as significant were remarks made this year by Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican once touted as a Vice President pick for Romney. Rubio likened the humanitarian plight of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to that of Cuban refugees fleeing Castro. For Chicanos, who have long resented the preferential immigration treatment that Washington accords Cubans, it was a watershed acknowledgment — the kind that Cesar Chavez, for all his influence, could only have dreamed of 50 years ago.

PHOTOS: Election 2012: Faces of the Latino Vote


TejanoTejano or Texano (Spanish for "Texan") is a term used to identify a Texan of criollo Spanish or Mexican heritage.Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify different groups of people. During the Spanish Colonial times and pre-Anglo colonization, the term primarily applied to Spanish settlers of the region now known as Texas (first as part of the New Spain and then in 1821 as part of Mexico).[2] During the times of independent south Texas, the term also applied to Spanish-speaking Texans and Hispanicized Germans and other Europeans.[2] In modern times, the term is more broadly used to identify a Texan of Mexican descent.Source Wikipedia Tejano.


Outside of Mexican American communities, the term might assume a negative meaning if it is used in a manner that embodies the prejudices and bigotries long directed at Mexican and Mexican-American people in the United States. For example, in one case, a prominent Chicana feminist writer and poet has indicated the following subjective meaning through her creative work.Ana Castillo: "[a] marginalized, brown woman who is treated as a foreigner and is expected to do menial labor and ask nothing of the society in which she lives."[11]Ana Castillo has referred to herself as a Chicana, and her literary work reflects that she primarily considers the term to be a positive one of self-determination and political solidarity.[12][13][14][15][16]The Mexican archeologist and anthropologist Manuel Gamio reported in 1930 that the term "chicamo" (with an "m") was used as a derogatory term used by Hispanic Texans for recently arrived Mexican immigrants displaced during the Mexican revolution in the beginning of the early 20th century.[17] At this time, the term "Chicano" began to reference those who resisted total assimilation, while the term "Pochos" referred (often pejoratively) to those who strongly advocated assimilation.[18]In Mexico, which by American standards would be considered classist or racist, the term is associated with a Mexican-American person of low importance class and poor morals.[19][20][21] The term "Chicano" is widely known and used in Mexico.[citation needed]

source wikipedia Chicano


Most likely Romney won the Cuban vote in Florida. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Colombians, Dominicans most basically canceled out the Cuban vote in Florida. 

However, Obama knows the true history of the Southwest and relied on Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico to help him secure the victory. All these also came in for him. President Obama himself said that he took Yes you can from Dolores Huerta and the farmers workers movement Si se puede.


I would also like to say that Colorado is a spanish word for Red and Colorado as well use to be part of Mexico. I don't think everyone in Coloraod uses Chicano just like not every Mexican uses Cholo and Chola which have specific meanings. A person who uses Cholo or Chola is a person who is recognizing their indigenous Native American roots. 

Not all Mexicans use Chicano, some do use Hispanic or Latino, Tejano, Neuvo Mexicano, Chilango, Cholo, Chola, It all depends on where a person is from. Many of these are regional. Actually I think most Mexicans in the United States use Mexican American to describe themselves and not Hispanic or Latino which use to be more popular. Latino itself came out of Mexico brought by the French and became popular in the West Coast like Chicano. 

Latino had more Commercial appeal and was better for branding purposes. As you can see below and checking census you can find out where the origin of a word started. 

 The term Latino was officially adopted in 1997 by the United States Government in the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino, which replaced the single term Hispanic: "Because regional usage of the terms differs – Hispanic is commonly used in the eastern portion of the United States, whereas Latino is commonly used in the western portion."[17]

This is how Latino was brought to Mexico by the French and Napoleon.  Leon itself is Latin it means Lion. 

Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the 1860 Reform Wars. These wars left the Mexican Treasury nearly bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years.[15][16] In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico that would favor French interests, the Second Mexican Empire.


he key factor won’t just be their sheer numbers, although they’re enormous: while Cuban Americans represent less than 5% of the Latino electorate, Mexican Americans, who also refer to themselves as Chicanos, represent about 60% of it.

Actually not all Mexicans use the word Chicano some find it offensive. It comes from the west coast. Many of these words are regional. Example Tejano or Tejana are Mexicans from Texas which use to be Tejas. Example Tejana singer Selena who was Mexican American. You have to know the history. You might want to look up Mexican Texas. Also San Antonio, El Paso, Laredo, Zapata, South Padre Island, Hidalgo, Mission, Corpus Christi, Amarillo, and many more towns and cities that were part of Mexico and now part of the United States. 

Same for New Mexico which use to be called Nuevo Mexico which had one of the first settlements. People from there are Nuevo Mexicanos if they have Mexican ancestry. 

in 1565. Santa Fe, New Mexico also predates Jamestown, Virginia (founded in 1607) and Plymouth Colony (of Mayflower and Pilgrims fame; founded in 1620). Later came Spanish settlements in San Antonio, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, San Diego, California, Los Angeles, California and San Francisco, California, to name just a few.

There are also other words used depending on from where a person is from. Example if a person is from Mexico City then they might use Chilango. 

Dave Francis
Dave Francis



Is it even

worth voting any more, when the proof is in on Voter Fraud across the country?

Of course it’s the Democrats assisted by the Communists, Liberals and extreme

Socialists as our President who wants to redistribute the wealth of people who

have taken the risk and built businesses and hired people. It’s certainly not

the parasites that live of the taxpayers, leeching out the monetary blood that

the majority has slaved for all of our lives. I’m not referring to real handicapped

people or those who are seriously inflicted with sickness. What I am talking

about is the “Freeloaders”, the people that are some of the 47 percent of those

that are cheating the welfare system. These are the ones who will definitely vote

for this president that I have become suspicious of, as much of his background

remains a mystery. When his university education, his military service papers

are sealed to the public? I’m not what they call a “Birther” but something is

very strange, with an individual who is accepted into an Indonesian school,

when only citizens of that country are allowed too???  







Everything says

something is wrong with this situation that has been wiped clean, by a national

press purchased by such degenerate Socialists as George Soros.  But I have joined the TEA PARTY because I have

realized, only a third party or the growing ranks of millions of hard working

citizens and legal residents can save America now from an Ultra Socialist

takeover. The investigation is not over in his place of birth is still

suspicious according to TEA PARTY.ORG. This once long term Democrat has seen

the light and has no intentions of voting for this human enigma, who has issued

orders that there should be no check on people applying for food stamps. My

personal opinion that both political parties are corrupt, with a very few that

try to hold true to their oath of allegiance.  I know one thing for sure, if he happens to

win this general elections, the really affluent of this country will head for pastures

new, where taxes are low and where the government leaves them alone. This

exodus is already happening when the new president of France was inauguration,

when he stipulated a 76 percent rise in taxes.   


Same with

illegal immigration, because government policies going way back has never

written laws to make entry into the U.S a felony? So to the prudent mind--it is

obvious that no lawmaker has deliberately ignored any law to halt the illegal

invasion. Even our next door Southern neighbor has stringent laws that if you

enter illegally, you are in deep (What hits the fan) as it is a felony once you

cross into their country. It’s a fair assumption in the states that have lax

voting laws, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens will be voting for the “Give

everything away” president. Tax everybody and then spend their ill-gotten gains

on the 20 million plus illegal aliens already here. You wouldn’t believe it,

unless you read the facts that the county of Los Angeles is spending $1.6

billion annually on these invaders, that’s to a majority Dem Liberal state

capital is a good thing? Other overall blue states keep these types of records

to themselves, and only by investigation of pro-sovereignty websites will you

find the actual costs. Currently the unbiased organization “Free to Vote” have

been researching Voter Fraud and unlike what the national media states, it

really does exist. HOUSTON, TX.—True The Vote (TTV), the nonpartisan election

integrity organization, today announces new research findings of voter fraud in

Ohio, Florida, New York and Rhode Island. The Offices of Florida, Ohio and

Rhode Island Secretaries of State, the New York State Board of Elections and

the U.S. Department of Justice were formally notified of ballots cast

simultaneously in both states for federal elections.


If you want sky high taxes; higher gas

prices at the pump; an antiquated tax system that benefits the privileged in

both parties; a ever growing federal government with rules and regulations that

inhibit new business creation; and a president that is giving even more to the

“freeloader” parasites that cohabit with the illegal alien invaders who are

draining the state reservoirs of money. 

Obama’s “Political Correctness” is causing major problems and effecting

foreign policy. He has alienated Israel to some extent with his Social

ideology, he refuses to us the term “Terrorist” and he still wants to keep

transmitting taxpayers money in huge amounts 

money to Egypt and many countries and not exclusively in the middle east




ALSO WANT TO GLOBALLY TAX US ALL. What our Congress should demand by American

voters is get the UN out of our face, and cut off the 10 billion dollars we

send to them.  



I am sure about is

the plan of the CONSTITUTION TEA PARTY if they can eject many Democrats and

Republican incumbents and substitute them? It’s already happening and by

replacing incumbents in the Republican Party can politically persist that the


passage and enacted to control more illegal alien invaders. They bring their

unborn babies here, to live as parasites of the U.S. taxpayer. The children of

illegal aliens had no say in coming to America, but by the enactment of the

BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL, this incredulous expensive issue for taxpayers is

resolved. It’s wrong in the majority of Americans minds that people who wait

for years with honest attentions to come to his sovereign country, while others

violate our nations laws and not only walk scott free, and are able to use

fraudulent Social Security numbers to be hired for jobs. This is especially

significant when millions of citizens-residents live in poverty, because there

is no work available.




Your times with David, Sam, Cokie, then George were de rigueur for any budding, young politico, back in the day. That was then, this is now. There is more at play than mere national guilt about slavery and all its chains that bond us to our current President. Much more. Women's rights, Gay's rights, the rights of the 47% to name a few. Our country has inextricably moved away from the era you grew up and came of age in: the era when we all Liked Ike, and Father Did Know Best. No George, today's rapidly changing and shrinking global society demands so much more that what Mitt Romney can deliver with his very narrow, and limited world view. Indeed, Romney is the very antithesis of what America needs now: a Global Leader. There is only one clear choice this election cycle. We must and we will elect the Most Qualified President for Our Times. 


Best regards,

Rich Haney
Rich Haney

Your opening paragraph recounting the Cuban Americans celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba also emphasizes a fact of history: The uniqueness of the U. S. - Cuban conundrum includes the fact that, in regards to the Cuban Revolution, the losers, not the winners, have mostly written the history concerning the unique overthrow of the U. S. - backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba. I know, as a visceral pro-democracy American, it is best not to remind Americans that the U. S. democracy, beginning in the 1950s, supported brutal, thieving foreign dictatorships, but I also believe being truthful to history is important.  In your last paragraph you mention Miami's latest contribution to the U. S. Congress, Senator Marco Rubio, who indeed would have been Romney's VP choice except the vetting process revealed Rubio's credit card and real estate problems in Florida on his way to becoming economically and politically rich. You mention Rubio's position regarding "Cuban refugees fleeing Castro" and it is a reminder of how one-sided the media slants the Cuban experience. Rubio's prime bios on his path to Congress, of course, used the obligatory "my parents fled the Castro tyranny," etc. Of course, the St. Petersburg Times and the Washington Post pointed out that Rubio's parents actually fled the "Batista tyranny" in Cuba. But, hey, when it comes to Cuba, a plethora of lies will continue to send otherwise incompetent Cuban-Americans to Congress and -- if Fox, the Tea Party, and the Bush dynasty have their way -- to the White House. Of course, the Rubio-Ros Lehtinen types from Miami no longer represent the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami, but they still control the political process, don't they?


REPUBLICANS. want what's Right for all people, no matter where or what ever their origin! We do want LEGAL. Immigration.. Just be honest about who you are and be thankful.

AMERICANS. must. remember we are a conglomerate of many races and creeds.We came here as immagrants to flee. persecution, hatred and starvation. We must not forget what our ancestors went through to get here, legally!

We are a divided country right now and this is the first time in my recollection and. I'm 83, that this has been the case. It was difficult. In the depression but we all worked together to make it work.. We must come together. because divided we fall..Mitt is a fine AMERICAN WE CAN ALL BE PROUD OF AS OUR NEW PRESIDENT.. Thanks be to GOD!

Scott Horowitz
Scott Horowitz

why does EVERYONE, except white people, have to be lumped into one group or another? "Mexican-," "African-"...

Really? Enough of this political correctness crap and just refer to all american citizens as americans. Is it that hard to do?


Mr. Romney, Everyone of your talking points point to an inevitable war with Iran, one our country can ill afford both fiscally, and more importantly, in the toll of lost lives and limbs. Far be it for you to preach about our military strengths, all the while whiling the hours away in France as you did during our nation's war in Vietnam. No sir, you must gracefully bow out while you can, concede defeat, and go back to the pleasant, albeit dull, life which you have created for yourself and your tight circle of true believers. Sincerely, A True American Patriot


The GOP legislation awaiting Romney's signature isn't simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it's far worse. Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House would roll back clean-air protections, gut both Medicare and Medicaid, lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, and slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits. In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. "Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor – which is the last thing you ought to cut," says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan's budget director. "It's ideology run amok."

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

Read more:


Persnickety Romney FAILED to learn the precept of "noblesse oblige" while DRAFT DODGING in France. Every REALISTIC Repub concedes DEFEAT.  


Only President Obama and the DEMOCRATS PROTECT the MIDDLE CLASS.  




Anti-Latino, Anti-Gay, Anti-Black, Anti-Woman... the GOP tent just keeps shrinking... guess that is where hate will get you.


Mitt thinks he would have an easier time being elected if he were Latino.  Unfortunately for him that voting block isn't as shallow as he believes - they can see right through him.


Reading these comments it's difficult to understand why the republican party is failing with this particular voting bloc. 


I don't know, I kind of got a chuckle out of reading "If the Mexican-American block wasn't so large, I guarantee that politicians and political candidates would not care about Mexican-American voters at all."  One begins to wonder how much attention would be paid to the "Anglo-American" voting block if it wasn't so big as well.  Crazy how that democracy thing works.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

This is the only thing that Hispanics need to know about Barack Obama, and you won't see this on any major network, or read about it from any of the apologists in the swamp..

snowleopard (cat folk gallery)
snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

I have to disagree with the article on a major point, AZ illegal immigration law (SB 1070) is not 'draconian' in the least. It has been through the courts, and hardly any of it survived.

From what I understand even those portions are being subjected to another court challenge or activist groups are preparing their challenges. Understand the term "illegal" means just that, you are here in the nation w/o having gone through established means, as set into the laws of the land via passage by Congress and signed into law by whichever President was in office at the time.

Do we need immigration reform, yes. Do we need a program such as Obama has done by bypassage of Congress - and thus illegal - no.

Let the Congress do their job.


Democrats were the ones who were willing to work with Bush jr to get immigration reform.  It is Republicans who tanked it.  Yelling for a fence and rounding up millions of people is not a solution.  The Chamber of Commerce fighting with it's base - just like Romney in a twist over his base and sane policies.  


I fully agree with your post.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


Barring illegal aliens (who have no right to vote), the Mexican-American vote means nothing.  It's simply exploited as a large voting block to ensure the re-election of Democrats across the country.  Such exploitation is a blatant example of political pandering.  If the Mexican-American block wasn't so large, I guarantee that politicians and political candidates would not care about Mexican-American voters at all.

The exploitation of the Mexican-American block also reminds me of the Democratic exploitation of Blacks since the 1960s (i.e. beginning during the Civil Rights Era).  Since the time of President Lincoln (credited with freeing Black slaves in the early 1860s), Blacks had been loyal to the Republican Party.  By the 1960s, it was thought that by granting Blacks equal rights that Democrats could guarantee themselves Black votes for the foreseeable future.  In many places, the strategy worked, and many Blacks now vote Democrat. 

Like the Mexican-American block, had Blacks not been a larger block, White politicians in the majority would not have allowed the Civil Rights Era-successes to occur.

For the time being, Mexican-Americans should consider themselves lucky to be on the rise.  If another major European wave of immigration hits this country (like it did from the 1890s-1920s), Mexican immigrants will find competition against a new (largely White) voting block.  Only time will tell...


Mexican is a nationality, not a race.  There are all kinds of Mexicans, even White Mexicans.  Your post shows your ignorance and racial bias.


 First, thanks for your reply.  Just a couple of comments:

1) I am aware that 'Mexican' refers to a nationality, not a race.

2) If you read my post again, you will find that I was not talking about Mexicans in my post.  Instead, I was talking about Mexican-Americans.  The two groups are quite different.

3) I was not talking about racial superiority in my post.  Instead, I was referring to exploitation of voting groups, and pointing out similarity between Black and Mexican exploitation.  In no way was I was espousing or advocating racism or racial bias.

4) I fail to see how my post in any way was ignorant or racist.  Perhaps you would be kind enough to identify an ignorant or racist area, and substantiate your response.

Thank you.

snowleopard (cat folk gallery)
snowleopard (cat folk gallery)

There is one matter to consider though - Mr Obama has failed to even take up his promise of immigration reform; even when he held effective majority in the House and Senate and focused on Obama Care and the Stimulus plans instead.

Even with the executive order for the dreamers given out (and thus bypassing the Congress yet again), he still has not kept his promise to them. I saw the Univision interview with Obama, and on the matter of immigration, he had the look of a man running scared - he may have lost at least part of the latino vote on his failure to deal with that matter.


 I certainly agree that President Obama did not use his majorities in Congress to take up serious illegal immigration reform.  Furthermore, I agree with your implication that Obama has bypassed Congress to achieve such reforms on a smaller scale (i.e. your example of the Dream Act).

Since it's prime-time election season, I too agree that Obama is somewhat 'running scared' of any serious immigration reform.  I don't believe that he wants to upset moderate constituencies with any kind of 'extreme-sounding' reform.  In other words, he's trying 'to have his cake, and eat it too.'  Like you said, this will cost him a part of the Latino  vote (albeit not a large part).


It is Republicans who blocked reform when W. brought it up.  It is McCain who went from being reasonable on the issue to yelling for a fence.  You want reform - talk to the Republican Chamber of Commerce and get a clue. 


Latinos know how Republicans feel about them:  the Arizona law, the hateful rhetoric from the Right, the refusal to pass immigration reform or even the Dream Act.  How insulting that the only refrain Latinos ever hear from Republicans is, "We must build a wall!"  Well Republicans, you've made your wall.  You just don't know it yet.  True, the only thing holding us back is the motivation to unite, register, and vote in mass numbers.  But we do have the potential.  And everyday, you are putting that motivation in our hearts just a little bit more.  And when we finally can't take anymore, you're days are numbered.  The quickest way to irrelevance is to ignore us.


 Hey Armando, I read your post, and (as a Republican) I have a few comments on it:

1) As Americans, we very much value our national security.  Illegal immigration presents a challenge for all in America, because when people sneak across the border (with Mexico and Canada), the government has zero way of knowing who they are and why they're here.

Those illegal immigrants (of every ethnicity) could range from workers to students to drug dealers to terrorists (and potentially even worse).  I think we could both agree that we need a better system to keep track of such individuals.

2) To better enhance our security, the Arizona Law aims to catch illegal immigrants of all ethnicities (not just those from Mexico).  Anyone who says the law is aimed at just Mexicans is both lying and misleading the public.

3) As Americans, we value the education of all our citizens.  As such, our citizens get the first priority in our educational institutions.  Until illegal immigrants of every ethnicity get either a temporary visa or become full citizens, they will not and (in fairness to American students) should not receive first priority. 

Therefore, such legislation as the Dream Act is fundamentally unfair to American students, as it places them as '2nd in importance' to illegal immigrants.  I think you and I could agree on that point.

4) Hateful rhetoric sounds wrong (regardless of which party it comes from), but it's more important to pay attention to the facts contained in that rhetoric.  If the facts are correct, than the only way to beat such rhetoric is with better facts. 

5) Getting back to national security, as Americans, we do not want any unlawful individuals entering our country.  We cannot make the assumption that everyone who comes here wants to make our country better.  Therefore, building a sophisticated wall on both borders would help towards that end.

It's not because we 'hate' anyone.  We just want to keep unlawful trespassers out to keep our citizens safe.  Do you have any better ideas that would be more effective than a wall?  I would be most interested in hearing them.

6) Every voting group in America 'has potential' to effect extraordinary change, and not just Mexican-Americans.

I will caution you that if Latinos gain political power and abuse that power, other voting groups will vote those Latinos out of office.  As much as 'Republicans put motivation in your hearts,' Latinos will do the very same  if  they go too far in their reforms.

Don't ever forget that.

7) As a Republican, I can promise that neither I nor my party is ignoring you.  In fact, America as a whole is not ignoring you.  We are watching to see what you and the growing Latino population will do in the coming years.

Let me be clear:  We want to work with you on real reform to create a Win/Win situation for all involved.  However, as Americans, we will not advocate illegal activities of any kind, nor will we advocate laws which put the prosperity of American citizens in '2nd place' to that of illegal newcomers.

If Latinos attempt to make such laws that benefit or help illegal immigrants of any and all ethnicities, I can promise that Latinos will not remain in power for long. 

Latinos are being given a real chance to make a meaningful difference in our society.  I hope they don't blow it.


I appreciate your thoughtful responses to my comments.

1) I agree that we need a system to better keep track of individuals. What better way is there to identify individuals than by allowing them to come out of the shadows and allowing them to join society as regular members of it (or at least being given some form of legitimacy)? Being adversarial only causes immigrants to stay hidden and creates a permanent underclass. What I don't agree with is the attitude and spirit coming from the Republican side on how to approach immigration. At least the Democrats want a comprehensive approach that recognizes not all who come here are looking to hurt the country. In fact, the vast majority simply want a better for life for themselves and are willing to work to do it. The Democrats are more open and understanding on this aspect of the issue and I believe its this sort of fairness that is necessary to solve it. It's pretty sad when the leaders of a party repeat the talking points of the extremists of their party. For example, Herman Cain, during the presidential debates, called for an "electric fence". Such rhetoric is distasteful, fosters animosity, and is a non-starter. Romney won the nomination in part by attacking Rick Perry and moving far to the right on immigration. The message that I and others get is that the Republicans are beholden to the extreme wing of their party and will be too afraid to lose their support to do anything meaningful on the immigration issue other than take a hard line.

2) I believe you (and the Republicans in general) have misjudged the impact the Arizona law has had on the psyche of Latinos. Certainly, the letter of the law does not mention Latinos by name specifically, but it most certainly paints a target squarely on our community. To you, its simply a law that allows law enforcement to verify citizenship of individuals that are stopped. To us, its slap in the face and a huge warning flag of what's to come. Consider that my elderly father is becoming quite senile in his old age. He's lived here for 40 years yet he still pronounces the word "jacket" as "chacket" and "thirty" as "terty". Let's say he decides to get in his truck and go to the corner store for some groceries. Because of his poor reflexes, he rolls a stop sign. A patrol car sitting not far away decides to pull him over. The officer asks my father for identification. Absentmindedly, my father has left his drivers license at home. The officer notices that my father has a heavy accent (which he's never been able to get rid of). He also notices my father's dark complexion and his shabby, dirty clothes (he likes to work in his garden). My father is unable to produce satisfactory ID but explains to the officer that he is a naturalized citizen. Because he cannot prove who he is the officer decides to detain him and takes him into custody. Let's say he gets turned over to ICE. Because he is in ICE's custody, he is not allowed to make a phone call or even obtain a lawyer. For days, our family is scrambling around making phone calls wondering where my father is. Did he have an accident? Did he go missing? We call the police station and they notify us that he's been turned over to immigration authorities. Because you have very few rights when under ICE custody, they refuse to allow us to talk to him or even acknowledge that they have him in their custody for days. We hire an immigration attorney but he's not able to get very many answers either. Finally after a week or two and several thousand dollars in attorney fees, we are able to bring him back home.

Now, you might think this scenario is far-fetched and unrealistic, but it is a very real danger for many Latino families. The very idea that this could happen in America would've been unthinkable a decade or two ago. Now take this situation and replace my father with an elderly caucasian American woman. Do you honestly think she is going to get the same treatment as my father did? Obviously not. I think its very telling that the creators of the Arizona law crafted it in such a way that only the people that law enforcement "suspects" are illegal immigrants are to be questioned. If they truly thought that it was necessary to pass such a stringent law in order to stop illegal immigration, the fair thing to do would've been to apply the law to everyone. That is, everyone must sacrifice some of their civil liberties and if they are pulled over for a traffic stop or in the course of normal duties, they are to produce identification (no exceptions) and if not, they are to be detained. But right now enforcement of the law is subject to the officer's discretion. Why? Because they know it would be extremely unpopular to the general public. As we saw in the TSA fiasco, the American public will not tolerate unreasonable pat downs or searches of their person. All it would take would be a few horror stories of American citizens being detained unlawfully by the Arizona law for it to go into the scrap pile. So instead, they place the burden of the law on people of foreign origins (i.e. people with heavy accents or foreign appearance) because less of a fuss will be made. But harassment is harassment. And fair is fair. Yet this law is patently unfair and burdensome to our demographic, and if Republicans had their way, it would spread to all 50 states.

3) The Dream Act does not give immigrants priority. According to the National Immigration Law Center: "Most undocumented students are likely to have zero impact on admission rates of native born students". The law does not give them scholarships or grants. It does not give them in-state tuition (it merely offers states the option to do so if they choose). It does not entitle them or their families to public benefits. It does not put them in competition with students from abroad applying for student visas (that's a separate program). They do not get amnesty or a green card. It does not encourage more illegal immigration as the program has clear cut-off dates and has no incentives for further illegal immigration. It does not allow those with criminal records to go to school. It simply acknowledges the unfortunate situation that some children were brought here as minors and through no fault of their own grew up in American society. Many of them served in the military or graduated with honors from their high schools. They would be a boon to our society that will pay taxes and contribute in the long run, if only they're allowed.

4) Yes, hateful rhetoric does sound wrong because it is wrong. This issue is as much about emotion as it is about facts because emotion drives the narrative and influences the politics. The rhetoric is an indication of where a group stands on an issue and how motivated they are to vote for one candidate or the other. As I explained above in #1, the extremists of your party are driving the dialogue and the leadership is bowing to that pressure. Those that are more moderate are being pushed out of the discussion. So rhetoric is important and harmful at the same time.

5) Sorry but this notion of a wall enhancing national security is a farce. Building a wall is unrealistic when you consider the border with Mexico is over 2,000 miles long (and building a wall any shorter than that will only drive people around it). The cost alone would be prohibitive and such a project would put us into even greater debt than we already are in. And after you build it, then what? If you build a 30' foot wall then, as Rick Perry said, "the 35' foot ladder business becomes real good", or tunnels will be dug or the wall will simply be circumvented in other ways. And its a false sense of security because the Canadian border is 3,987 miles long and parts of it are completely unmanned! And the costs to build two walls would be staggering - a cost we simply can't afford, especially right now, and would only serve to delay entry not prevent it. Even then, you still have hundreds of ports on both coasts that are entry points for immigrants coming from overseas.

Furthermore, illegal immigration has already been reduced to a trickle. The number of people coming here has decreased dramatically in recent years. So building a wall becomes even less beneficial compared with the costs involved.

6) I'm not suggesting any sort of power grab by Latino politicians. What I am saying is that in the coming years, Latinos will be the largest demographic in the country. That is simply a fact. Latinos may already influence the outcome of the presidential race in key states such as Colorado and Nevada. And if the Republican party continues with its inflammatory rhetoric and pass legislation that negatively affects our community, you can be sure that we will take notice and vote accordingly. 89% of the growth in my state of Texas in the past decade has been all minority. Yet the Republican party has gerrymandered and created the new districts where there is hardly no Latino majority at all. Really? Aren't districts supposed to represent the people that are there? Why don't they want Latinos to be overly represented? Could it be because Latinos tend to vote Democrat? Rather than try to be friendly to us, they would rather attempt to silence us. And emails back in forth from Republicans in Washington reveal their collusion and their deliberate fudging of the map lines in order to prevent any Latin majority. And the Supreme Court has recently ruled in our favor. As Emerson once wrote, "Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say."

7) As I mentioned in #6, there is a deliberate attempt by your party to silence us and keep us from having our due representation. But at best it's only a temporary stop-gap measure. Right now, there is no Win/Win proposal put out by your side. And if they continue to ignore reality on the ground (that people are here and are not just going to pack up and leave) and continue to push this hardline "no amnesty ever" stance, they will pay a political price. There is some room for negotiation but your side (as it stands) won't listen to anything right now. I personally don't believe in giving illegal immigrants automatic citizenship. If they come here to work then I believe they should be allowed to do that (but not receive any public benefits). I hope the Republicans do come around to a compromise but given that they are being hijacked by the far right, I seriously doubt it. Right now, Romney loses to Obama in the hispanic demographic by a margin of 3 to 1. Latinos could be the key in this election in critical states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada (states that Romney badly needs to win). Until your side becomes more receptive to our concerns, they're going to have a hard time convincing Latinos to vote Republican.



Hey, Kashbohmc2, I read your first  paragraph,  and as a former Republican  I have only to say that it is Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce who want cheap labor here to do our grudge jobs.  They willingly turn a blind eye to whether they're illegal or not.  It is Democrats who fought with Chavez to bring those we use for cheap labor decent living conditions and care - even I boycotted grapes as I voted Republican).  As a Republican you can't have it both ways.  Once you use a group of people for slave labor,   they just might come back and give us a President of the U.S.  


as a latino and a voting latino I sadly do not trust either canidate or either party. In a country so big with so much potential we can not find one person of integrity to truly lead this nation

Sean DeCoursey
Sean DeCoursey

"illegal aliens" and "wetbacks" are not remotely interchangeable.  One describes a legal status, one is an ethnic slur implying the previous legal status was achieved by crossing a river.  Conflating the two terms is just... not good journalism.


Yeah, and 

" ... as invisible to Washington as a Oaxaca migrant scampering over the nighttime desert."isn't exactly a flattering metaphor either.