Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The election is over - now what?

The latest blog post is up at HuffPost Voces Latino:
estados unidos
The election is over – now what?

Terri E. Givens

Latinos voted. Obama has won re-election, while the Democrats have held onto the Senate and made inroads into the Republican majority in the House.  Obama won 75% of the Latino vote – not just on the issue of immigration, but on a variety of issues where the Republicans seemed tone deaf.  However, both Democrats and Republicans have to face the reality that the Latino vote is now decisive for national elections, as shown in the analysis by Gary Segura and Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions. As I discussed in my previous blog post, politicians are more likely to respond to the interests of groups when they vote and have an impact on the outcome of an election.  This was clearly the case in this election, and it’s an opportunity that should not be wasted.

When it comes to policy change, the election is just the beginning.  Of course the top issue for all Americans is the economy.  The negotiations over the budget will be difficult, and the President and Congress will need to hear from all of us on those issues, so it will be important to stay mobilized. The majority that Obama was able to pull together was the result of a lot of work on the ground.  More young people and minorities voted in this election than the pundits, and certainly Romney’s campaign, expected.  This energy needs to be maintained to help push for policy change.

Once the issues around the fiscal cliff are dealt with, comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM act should be top priorities. However, it will take more than goodwill to move forward on these issues.  The election is just the first step in what is likely to be a long process of finding key legislators to take on these issues, and move them forward. Fortunately there are signs that comprehensive immigration reform is moving higher on the agenda.  GOP leaders like John Boehner, and pundits like Sean Hannity have “evolved” on the issue, and say that it needs to be addressed.

However, it’s not clear that all of the GOP is going to support comprehensive immigration reform. Many have also indicated that they may not be as open to immigration reform as some of their leaders.  What is clear is that the status quo is indefensible, as American Conservative Union President Al Cardenas has said.  The GOP has many issues to deal with after this election, and if the party is to remain relevant, they will have to look at why they failed to attract more votes from women, young people and minorities.

This is also an important time for voters to stay engaged at the local and state level.  If you have concerns about the long voting lines and issues around voter suppression, these have to be addressed in your own communities.  We all need to push for policies that will encourage and facilitate voting.  If we value our democracy, we should value the right to vote, and make it easier for those who are eligible to vote, not make it harder.  It’s embarrassing to try to explain to my European friends why some Americans had to wait as long as 7 or 8 hours to vote on Election Day. Regardless of your political orientation, the ability to vote in a timely manner should not be an issue in 2012.  We have the means to resolve these issues, and it should not be done in a partisan manner.

I look forward to the discussions to come around immigration, the DREAM act, and other policies that will help to fix our broken immigration system.  I encourage those of you who care about this issue to stay engaged, I will continue to write about developments in this blog.  As President Obama said, “we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More articles on the GOP and the Latino Vote

Mostly from the Huffington Post, these articles lay out the issues facing the GOP following last week's election:

Obama's Big Hispanic Voter Win In Presidential Election Worries Republicans

Carlos Gutierrez, Mitt Romney Adviser: Latinos 'Were Scared'

Mitt Romney Latino Loss Shows Republicans 'Have Been Their Own Worst Enemy'

A thoughtful response to the Latino vote issue:
The Demographic Excuse  By ROSS DOUTHAT

Another argument that it's economic policy, not immigration policy that sways Latino voters:
Why Hispanics don't vote for Republican by Heather Mac Donald

Back to immigration -Ten players to watch in immigration reform:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Obama wins ~75% of Latino vote - GOP changes tune on immigration reform

It wasn't long after the election was called for Obama that GOP politicians and pundits began to blame their loss on a variety of reasons, but losing the Latino vote was at the top.  The results from Latino Decisions tell the tale:

Now several GOP pundits like Sean Hannity, and politicians like John Boehner are changing their tune on immigration reform:

...and from POLITICO, 20 quotes on immigration reform:

Rupert Murdoch

"Must have sweeping, generous immigration reform,make existing law- abiding Hispanics welcome. Most are hard working family people."
(Photo: AP Photo)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Article from Cato Institute

This article by Alex Nowrasteh from the Cato Institute does a great job of explaining the economic impact of immigration and a rebuttal to a recent memo by the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies:

"Mark Krikorian, executive director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies and author of the book The New Case Against Immigration: Both Illegal and Legal, criticized a remarkI made to Washington Times reporter Stephen Dinan about a new CIS memo.
The memo, which can be found here, claims that immigrants are taking most of the jobs created since President Obama took office.  I told the Washington Times that the memo “makes a mountain out of a molehill” because it ignores key economic explanations that have nothing to do with demonizing immigrants.  Steven Camarota, one of the authors of the memo, evenagreed that one factor I mentioned could explain his findings.
In response, Mr. Krikorian wrote that I should, “Tell that to the 23 million Americans who are unemployed, forced to settle for part-time work, or gave up looking for work altogether.”
My response is that the CIS memo is so flawed it should not be taken seriously."
More at:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why Vote?

Link to Spanish Version in HuffPost Voces Latino:
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” Cesar Chavez

As Election Day draws near, I hear many people saying that they may not vote, that there isn’t much difference between the candidates, etc.  Regardless of how you may feel about the candidates, voting is a right and a duty.  Everyone who is eligible should vote, because it will make a difference. 

I know that my vote will count as a woman, as an African-American, and as someone who feels passionately about issues like immigration.  I have compared the positions of the candidates on a variety of issues and know whose positions are closer to my own.  However, I also know that if I don’t vote, then there will be one less voice for women, and all the other categories that I fit into. 

When the election is over, the parties will look at the results and try to determine what they mean, not only in terms of who is elected president or to Congress, but in terms of the direction that the vote is moving for the future, which will have an impact on policies legislators pursue going forward. Have certain groups of voters been energized or turned off by the issues that were raised, or not raised? Those who voted will have a more legitimate voice after the election in the halls of power, when they are pushing for a particular issue. 

Although I would argue that Latinos don’t make a homogenous voting bloc, they have been treated as one in this election, and President Obama recently argued that he may win the election because the GOP has alienated Latino voters (article). Time will tell if this is true or not. Polls have clearly been undercounting Latinos, as shown in a study by Matt Barreto. You can be sure that analysts will be examining exit polls to determine the impact of the Latino vote, and this will have an impact on policy decisions by those elected. The demographics of this country are changing and we will soon be a majority minority country.  However, that majority has to vote and run for office in order to exercise any kind of power over policy.

The future of immigration policy is in the hands of the voters.  The presidential candidates and congressional candidates have laid out their positions. Of course, this is not the only issue that voters will focus on, it’s clear that the economy is the top issue. However, I would argue that the two issues are intertwined.  A coherent, practical immigration policy will lead to more economic growth in this country as I argued in my previous column. 

I always return to history when discussing these issues and there are many historical examples of groups, particularly immigrants, having an impact on the direction of policy.  German, Irish, Polish, Italians, all of these groups have had an important impact on politics and politicians from these groups have been important to policy change.  It may take time, but every election is another step in a particular direction.  If you care about issues and the future for your family and children, you must raise your voice, vote and help this country determine the direction it will go in the future.