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Anyone who watched television or read newspapers after the Republican’s losses in the November election saw many references to Marco Rubio. Convinced that they needed to gain Latino support if they were going to do better in future elections, Republicans began to develop a “Latino strategy.” A more moderate stance toward “immigration” (read: immigrants without documents from Latin America) was part of this strategy. Another component was improving their image with Latinos by a larger role to Latino Republican office holders. Foremost among the latter is Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida, son of Cuban immigrants. He leads the Republican campaign on immigration reform. Hailed as a rising star, he has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election.
Rubio has many features that seem to appeal to Latinos. He is fluent in Spanish and boasts of his hard-working Cuban immigrant parents. Unlike many Cuban origin political leaders in Florida, Rubio is not an Ivy Leaguer. He went to a modest college and law school and borrowed $100,000 in student loans. A regular guy. This might help explain why he won 55 percent of the Latino vote in his successful run in 2010 for the U.S. Senate.
To be a significant magnet for the Latino vote, Rubio would have to appeal not only to Cubans in Florida but also to other Latinos throughout the country, Mexican Americans in particular. They represent the largest number of Latino voters and I don’t see why Rubio would necessarily appeal to them anymore than another candidate.
Rubio’s immigration reform plan does not stand out when compared with the Democrats’. It has much in common with Obama’s except that it falls short on a crucial issue: it does not provide a path to citizenship to the “Dreamers.”
Finally, it is not likely that Republicans would unite behind Rubio should he present a bill that formalizes his immigration plan.
If his immigration plan is not as generous as Obama’s, his stand on entitlements looks miserly vis-à-vis the Democrats’. Latinos, as other individuals, would face the adverse effects of cuts in government programs that Republicans obsess about. These are not good auguries if Rubio has ambitions to gain Latino support for a candidacy for the Presidency. As a long-oppressed population, Latinos will look askance at a candidate that doesn’t address their interests wholeheartedly and is a member of a party long devoted to the interests of white elites. Bottom-line is that being a “Trophy Latino” won’t be enough to get him elected President.
But what about Cubans? This Cuban exile will not vote for Rubio because of the tenor of his political ideas. But I’m a liberal academic. How about average Cubans? I asked my Cuban sample in Miami, that is, my aunt and her children, about their views on Rubio. They said that they would have to see his entire agenda before they could support him. My aunt and my cousins are a tiny, non-probability sample. However, they have provided me for years with reliable information about the Cuban community in Florida. Knowing Rubio’s policies, I doubt that they’ll vote for him. My hunch is that many other Cubans will feel the same way.
On Wednesday August 15, eligible undocumented immigrants throughout the nation began to apply for work permits under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As The New York Times put it, “The work permit young immigrants can receive with the deferral opens many doors that have been firmly shut. They can obtain valid Social Security numbers and apply for driver’s licenses, professional certificates and financial aid for college.” On the same day, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an Executive Order aimed at keeping those doors firmly shut in Arizona.
Her order [pdf] directs state agencies to initiate any changes necessary to prevent “Deferred Action recipients from obtaining eligibility . . . for state funded public benefits and state identification, including a driver’s license.”
Brewer’s order contradicts Arizona’s current policy that provides driver’s licenses to undocumented individuals who have secured jobs and attorneys doubt that it will have any practical effects.
Brewer’s action might have been motivated by her notorious animosity towards President Obama (pictured above in an encounter in January, 2012). An editorial in the August 17 issue of the Arizona Republic characterizes Brewer’s executive order as a “Move that Goes Too Far”.
in her efforts to oppose the president, “Even if the issue is something as seemingly straightforward as allowing Dream Act kids to obtain driver’s licenses, a fundamental precondition for Americans seeking to improve their lot in a mobile society.”
This is just another episode in Brewer’s relentless campaign against the undocumented. It is another instance of the racism that has tarnished Arizona’s reputation. Sadly, it delights racist voters, which evidently trumps human decency.
Dennis Sasso, an Indianapolis rabbi who was born and raised in Panama, published an article in the May 25th issue of the Indianapolis Star titled “Jewish, Latino communities share bond of diversity.”
Sasso discusses a recent meeting in Indianapolis attended by leaders of the Latino and Jewish communities. He points out the similarities between the two groups:
Both groups see themselves as diaspora communities. Both have histories of immigration, discrimination and negative stereotyping. Both place high value on family, education and religio-cultural traditions.
Moreover, Sasso adds, both groups have common interests. Latino leaders “expressed interest in the Jewish community’s successful system of communal organization and active engagement in the civic and political life,” while Jewish participants “learned of the diversity of the Latino populations in our state and their interest in issues that are at the core of the Jewish public agenda.”
It is important, Sasso went on, “for diverse constituencies to know one another, to help each other succeed and to advance a common good that transcends party and ethnic identity politics.”
It is gratifying to see Sasso, who refers to himself as “One who is both a Jew and a Latino.” participate in the promotion of ties between both groups.
I don’t know if this is the case, but it is possible that leaders in both communities see the need to join forces to combat the burgeoning intolerant, racist and regressive political forces that Mitt Romney’s campaign has galvanized.
In 2010, the Arizona state legislature passed a blatantly racist law, SB 1070.
One of its most notorious provisions (Section B) is particularly loathsome. It requires officers of the law who have “lawful contact” with an individual to make a “reasonable attempt” to ascertain the individual’s immigrant status “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” Two questions arise. First, what motivates the officer to initiate the “lawful contact”? Second, how does the officer arrive at a “reasonable suspicion”? The tool used in both cases is racial profiling.
The Obama administration challenged SB 1070 in court. Judge Susan Bolton of the Federal District Court issued a preliminary injunction against sections of the law, including Section B. The State of Arizona appealed Judge Bolton’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld Bolton’s decision. Subsequently the State of Arizona appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case on April 25. There was some discussion of Section B during the hearing. Astonishingly, some Justices made comments that suggested support for this provision.
If the Supreme Court rules in Arizona’s favor, racial profiling will be legalized in Arizona for years. What’s next?
San Luis, Arizona is a small border community (2009 population was 25,682) located on the southwest corner of the state. As is true in most Arizona border towns, its population is predominantly Latino (94%) and Spanish is the common language.
In an interview with the New York Times Archibaldo Gurrola, a local UPS deliveryman and former San Luis councilman, stated that
It’s strange to speak English here. Spanish is what you hear everywhere, maybe with some English thrown in.
Language and political hegemony go hand in hand, and thus it is not surprising that a 1910 act granting Arizona statehood includes a provision requiring that officeholders must perform their duties in English without the aid of a translator.
Alejandrina Cabrera was a candidate for a seat on the City Council and her English proficiency is limited. She is a U.S. citizen and a graduate from an Arizona high school. Apparently motivated by political rivalries, Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla filed a legal challenge to Mrs. Cabrera’s inclusion on the ballot on the grounds that her “lack” of full English proficiency disqualifies her from serving on the Council.
The case was brought up to the County Supreme Court. Judge John Nelson ordered a linguist to assess Mrs. Cabrera’s English proficiency. The linguist, William G. Eggington, who originates from Australia, determined that Mrs. Cabrera
does not yet have sufficient English language proficiency to function adequately as an elected City Council member.
Mrs. Cabrera noted that she was thrown off by Professor Eggington’s accent at least once. He asked her about summer, which he pronounced “summa.” That is the sobriquet for the nearby community of Somerton, causing Mrs. Cabrera to be utterly confused.
On January 25 Judge Nelson agreed with Professor Eggington’s recommendation and ruled that Mrs. Cabrera be struck from the ballot. Her lawyers said that they might appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has made the news again for his treatment of undocumented immigrants in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. On December 15, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report that details unlawful and inhumane abuses carried out by Arpaio and his underlings against “illegals” between 2008 and the present. It details violations in community policing and in the County detention facilities. Below are some excerpts:
• Latino drivers are four to nine times more likely to be stopped than similarly situated non-Latino drivers.
• Our investigation uncovered a number of instances in which immigration-related crime suppression activities were initiated in the community after MCSO [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office] received complaints that described no criminal activity, put rather referred, for instance, to individuals with “dark skin” congregating in one area, or individuals speaking Spanish at a local business.
• Individual accounts regarding MCSO deputies stopping Latinos on the basis of their appearance corroborate the use of discriminatory policing practices.
• MCSO detention officers discriminatorily punish Latino LEP [Limited English Proficient] inmates who fail to understand commands given in English by, for example, locking down their pods (which increases the risk of inmate-on-inmate violence), or imposing disciplinary segregation (solitary confinement).
• MCSO detention officers refuse to accept forms completed by Latino LEP inmates in Spanish. Such forms include tank orders, which enable inmates to request basic daily services, and grievance forms, which enable inmates to identify and address alleged mistreatment. Even in instances when Spanish language requests are accepted, Latino LEP inmates face delays in services for not submitting requests and grievance forms in English.
Arpaio is popular among (mostly white) voters not only in Arizona but also in the rest of the nation, to such extent that several GOP presidential candidates sought his endorsement, which he eventually gave to Rick Perry.
At first blush, it is hard to believe that these injustices were perpetrated so unabashedly, but when one remembers how “illegals” are so very negatively viewed in the dominant White Racial Frame, it makes perfect sense.
What in the world could Arizona’s challenge of the Voting Rights Act and the requirement passed in 12 states that citizens show government-issued picture ID’s before voting have in common? The answer is simple: Both are being used by white racists to impede people of color’s right to vote and nullify their vote’s impact.
One tactic is the removal of the Federal Government oversight of the often tainted state electoral process. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s anti-racist agenda. It outlawed poll taxes and other obstacles that impeded people of color’s access to the ballot box.
Arizona has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of parts of the Voting Rights Act. The parts in question require states that did not meet certain requirements in 1972 to secure federal approval for any state legislation or change that could affect voting. Arizona is one of the states.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who filed the lawsuit, said that the original criteria for pre-approval are no longer relevant or constitutional, and Arizona no longer needs the federal government’s scrutiny. “The historical Voting Rights Act was meant to overcome horrendous voting discrimination that occurred in the South,” Horne said. “We are being severely penalized for something that happened in 1972 that was corrected in 1975.”
Many Mexican American legislators disagree. They argue that federal government oversight is still necessary in Arizona. They say that the Department of Justice was forced to intervene on numerous occasions, as was the case ten years ago when it mandated a redrawing of proposed legislative boundaries that would have put Mexican American voters at a disadvantage. Rep. Richard Miranda states their current goal succinctly:
We are asking the Independent Redistricting Commission not to dilute the impact of minority voters.
A second subterfuge pertains to the requirement that citizens show government-issued ID’s before they can vote. In an August 26 New York Times Op-EdJohn Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, discusses a law passed by 12 Republican state legislatures this year. The law requires “that citizens obtain and display unexpired government-issued photo identification before entering the voting booth.” It so happens that as many as 25 percent of African American voters lack adequate identification.
Conservative supporters of the law allege that this regulation is necessary to forestall voter impersonation. However, there is no evidence that voter impersonation is a widespread problem. When the state of Indiana defended its picture ID provision before the Supreme Court, it could not produce evidence of even one instance of the offense in Indiana. Similarly, in the last ten years Kansas, another state that passed the legislation, experienced a larger number of alleged U.F.O. sightings than claims of voter impersonation.
I believe that if these white attacks fail, more will follow. Racism is a tough nut to crack.
Once upon a time, vicious racist statements were pretty much limited to white racist good ole boys having a beer or two. These days such statements they may be found in mainstream media, authored by Republican candidates or elected officials.
Jack Davis, a Buffalo N.Y. businessman running in the Republican primary for a congressional seat, stated recently that Latino farm workers should be deported and replaced by inner city Blacks. In other words, take the pestiferous illegals out of the country and replace them with stereotypically (in his mind) lazy Blacks.
Kansas Representative Virgil Peck outdid Davis. The problem caused by the growth of the wild hog population was being discussed at a meeting of the House Appropriation Committee. A possible solution, gunmen in helicopters, was being debated. Peck asserted:
If shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem.
Peck voiced a brief apology that many found unconvincing. As Peck sees it, illegal immigrants and wild hogs are at the same level.
Republican Party officials expressed dismay at these politicians’ abhorrent pronouncements and tried to distance themselves from this vitriol. These party officials, however, should ask themselves the following question: Why do politicians of this ilk align themselves with the GOP and not another party?
Sunday’s edition of the Arizona Republic features an article about Henry Cejudo, a gifted athlete from Phoenix.
Henry, the son of parents who at one point in time were “illegals” from Mexico, won a wrestling gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Henry was interviewed recently to ascertain his views about current efforts to deny children of undocumented immigrants what the Constitution grants unambiguously to every individual born in this country: U.S. citizenship. Although not “an anchor” baby himself (his mother became a documented immigrant before Henry’s birth), Henry identifies with them. He is quoted as saying, “That’s [denial of citizenship to illegals’ children] ridiculous. Are they going to take my gold medal back?”
After Henry won his gold medal in 2008, the Republic’s article reports, Senator McCain told Katie Couric, CBS new anchor, that Henry was someone “he would like to have dinner with.” I wonder how McCain, paladin of the anti-immigrant movement, reconciles his current views with his past invitation to Henry.
Henry is a true patriot. After his victory in Peking, Henry ran around the gymnasium floor wrapped in an American flag. He has stated that he would die for this country. But after his 2008 victory, right-wing talk radio asked for his mother’s deportation, in spite her being a legal U.S. resident since 1986.
As an immigrant myself, I empathize with Henry’s gratitude toward this country. But I have to regularly remind myself that assimilation has an oppressive side. The unsavory experiences provoked by the dominant racial frame become more evident as our knowledge of this society deepens.
This morning’s Arizona Republic features a front-page article on legislator Barry Wong’s approach to the solution of the ‘illegal’ immigration problem.
Wong, a lawyer and four-term member of the state house of representatives, is running as a Republican for a seat in the Arizona Corporation Commission, a public entity responsible for public utilities regulation. He proposes asking utility companies not to serve ‘illegal’ immigrants.
He contends that
There is a cost ratepayers shouldn’t have to bear because of the illegal immigrant population.
The other two Republican candidates for the seat, and all three Democrats agree that asking utilities “to check customers’ immigration status is inappropriate.”
“I’m sure that there will be criticism about human rights violations,” Wong averred. “Is power or natural gas or any type of utility we regulate, is that a right people have? It is not a right. It is a service.”
I’ve always believed in calling bullshit…… bullshit. Wong’s proposal falls in the latter category. It is ironic that Wong, the son of Chinese immigrants who fled difficult conditions in China, would voice such xenophobic bullshit. How unsettling it is to see that political candidates believe that practically all campaign promises will help them get elected, as long as they are “anti-illegal.”