This past November, Latinos mobilized, volunteered and voted in record numbers. They helped put President Barack Obama back in office for another four years. And now, just like everyone else who supported him, they want Obama to address their needs, and they’re calling for payback. But exactly what needs do they want addressed?
IMMIGRATION REFORM? MAYBE NOT
The 70% of Latinos who voted for Obama are mostly of Mexican descent, and Mexican-Americans make up 63% of the Latino population in this country. So there is a large number of Latinos who have been in the U.S. for generations—and you have to be a U.S. citizen to vote in this country, anyway. So why are these American citizens of Mexican descent so obsessed with immigration reform if it doesn’t directly affect them?
Unfortunately the media, like politicians, like to narrow everything down to a single cause, a single demographic and a single ethnicity. The Latinos who propelled Obama to another term want a hell of a lot more than immigration reform. They want the same things liberal or center-left non-Latinos want: jobs, affordable health care, education, and the freedom to move about the country without being pulled over because of the color of their skin. They want a government that works for them and not against them.
Romney was working against them—against Latinos and against anyone who was a woman, part of the 47%, or non-white.
The election has been over for two months. But Obama is about to be sworn into office again, and the media keeps talking about payback for Latinos. If Latinos wanted immigration reform, why would they have voted for Obama in the first place? Under his presidency, Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president. And the DREAM Act amnesty program for young people who came to this country illegally is so wishy-washy, many illegal immigrants are afraid of registering with the program because it offers no guarantees. If you’re illegal, it’s better to just stay in the shadows.
The media interview the voices, the advocates, the young Latino activists who worked so hard to get out the Latino vote. But the average Latino voter is not the young Latino advocate who speaks of immigration reform. The Latino voter’s profile is more like that of the average middle-class taxpayer than it is of an illegal immigrant.
SO WHAT DO WE WANT?
Latinos are looking for the same programs and promises as most of the rest of the population that voted for Obama:
- Jobs: Obama has been doing a good job of pulling the country out of the recession. Jobs are coming back, and that’s a good reason to support Obama, Latino or not.
- Accountability & Assistance: Latino homeowners were one of the primary targets of those shady sub-prime mortgages. They had the most to lose when the housing bubble burst. Obama came to the rescue with the Making Home Affordable program. Thank you very much.
- Affordable Health Care: Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a big winner with Latinos.
- Affordable Education: The Obama administration passed student loan relief and added funding to the Federal PELL grant program, which benefits low income students.
- Reproductive Rights: The Republican “War on Women” was a war on Latinas as well. And 76% of them took note of this and voted for Obama.
Hmm… I don’t see immigration reform anywhere on this list of priorities, do you?