Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Politics of Immigration Weekly Round-up 02/18/08

CCIR: Coalition of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 18, 2008
CONTACT: Marisa McNee 917-733-2351

The Politics of Immigration Weekly Round-up 02/18/08

The buzz around immigration in the context of the presidential race quieted down a bit this week. Interestingly, the excitement was around Latino turn-out at the polls – the one segment of the electorate that has been undeniably energized by and against the hate interwoven in the immigration debate. For the GOP candidates hoping to capitalize from immigrant-bashing, immigration has been a flop at the polls.

As candidates continue traveling the country on the quest for the presidency, the Latino vote is proving to make the difference in some of the largest and most competitive primaries in 2008. One has to wonder how any political party that continues to fear-monger and demagogue the immigration issue could expect to win a national election alienating the Latino vote, and increasingly tiring the rest of the country awaiting for real solutions on this issue.

Read on for the weekly round up on the politics of immigration…

In the News

The Washington Post editorial page weighs in on the reality of immigration issue thus far in the 2008 election cycle:
“IN THE AFTERMATH of last summer's national debate over immigration reform, elected officials of all stripes were stunned by the popular passion and fury unleashed by the failed effort in Congress to provide an eventual path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Many Republicans concluded hopefully -- and many Democrats reckoned fretfully -- that immigration would be the premier wedge issue of the 2008 campaign. But with the presidential primaries in their homestretch, it now appears that both the hopes and the fears were overstated.”
Washington Post, Nativism's Electoral Flop, Feb. 14, 2008

And after yet another round of primary races last week the evidence continues to mount—the sleeping giant is most certainly alive and awake:
“In the Texas primary on March 4, one-quarter of the registered voters are Hispanic and the two Democratic front-runners are grappling for their support. For Sen. Barak Obama, Hispanic voters are key to gaining more momentum toward the nomination. For Sen. Hillary Clinton, Hispanics could reinvigorate a sagging campaign.

In Florida's own primaries last month, Hispanics pushed Sen. John McCain within striking distance of the Republican nomination. In the neck-in-neck Democratic race, Hispanic voters have stood solidly with Clinton, but may finally be flirting with the candidacy of Obama, who has enjoyed little support from them so far.”
“Political analysts and strategists have long watched the growing number of Latinos in the United States, predicting their political power. But until this year, Latinos have not gone to the polls in large numbers. Menendez said the harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric that led to the defeat of the immigration bill is driving Hispanics to the polls…”
Florida Sun-Sentinel, Presidential Candidates Seek Support from Hispanics, Feb. 17, 2008
Spanish Language Press (Our Translation)
And the Spanish media was paying attention to McCain’s trajectory, and the potential for immigration reform in the context of what the presidential field is shaping out to be. Chicago’s La Raza newspaper had this to say about McCain…

“He has also gone against the current of his party in other things, and that is what makes him stand out from a group in which everyone wants to be more anti-immigrant than everyone else. And this is what is going to make the battle more interesting: John McCain was a co-sponsor of the Kennedy-McCain immigration reform bill, introduced in 2006 and that, even though it didn’t go anywhere, it laid the foundation for a broader discussion about comprehensive immigration reform during a dark period.

McCain is not representative of the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican party, that at this point is not a wing but the entire body, with some extremities that do better because they refuse to add to the xenophobic choir of those who insist, like Pete Wilson did, “that we are not ant-immigrant, only anti-illegals.” Those of us that listen know what they are in reality.”

“It is to say that McCain could help save the Republicans from themselves and from the damage that they have caused the fastest growing population of the United States. Of course immigration is not everything: Latinos also worry about the Iraq war, education, healthcare, and other issues that equally affect us all, regardless of race and origin.”
La Raza, The Figure of John McCain, Feb. 8, 2008

And Jorge Cancino at UnivisiĆ³n Online had this to say about immigration reform:

“The three leading candidates in the primary elections (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, for the Democrats, and John McCain for the Republicans), have something in common: they support immigration reform with a path to legalization.

It will be necessary to follow the developments of the primary elections until its known which candidates will be the nominees for the presidency in the November elections. There it will be possible to evaluate the probability of immigration reform. And the key date could be March 4th, when primary elections are held in the state of Texas, where an important percentage of Hispanic voters live.”
Univision Online, Immigration Reform has Probabilities: Clinton, McCain, and Obama Support It, Feb. 11, 2008

On the Blogs
Dave Neiwert has a second post of a three part series up at Firedoglake refuting the extremists in the immigration debate:

“The prescriptions offered by both the nativists and corporate conservatives are poisonous, likely to harm the body politic both culturally and economically, perhaps even at a catastrophic level.

There's a good reason for that: Much of the right -- the nativists particularly -- have been whipped up by scapegoating artists relying on a series of popular delusions that are built on a foundation of falsehoods and distortions. They are fundamentally untrue in important ways, so much so you can't properly call them "myths" -- "canards" or "popular delusions" would be more accurate.

The existence and persistence of these delusions is the chief reason progressives have largely been on the defensive when it comes to dealing with immigration. And it's an unfortunate fact: If they want to make any headway and forge their own approach to the debate, their first job is going to necessarily entail debunking the nativists' canards, and dispelling many of the popular delusions about immigrants. The public isn't going to follow a rational program if they continue to cling to old falsehoods.”

And Markos has a message for Democrats who want to run to the right on immigration: Psst Rahm? Immigration is killing Republicans

“We've seen the past two years the immigration issue doesn't decide elections, and that even a majority of Republicans aren't frothing in the mouth about it. To wit, Virginia, where Republicans based their entire 2007 off-year state legislative election strategy on demonizing immigrants, the primary exit polls for Republican voters, showed this (page two):

How to handle illegal immigrants
Path to citizenship: 26
Temporary worker: 28
Deport them: 44

That is, the most hard-core Republicans, the ones who bothered to turn out in a year when Republicans are mostly staying home, are more likely to support ways to keep undocumented immigrants in this country than they are to demand deportation.

Not that it's stopped Rahm Emanuel from continuing his efforts to the Democratic caucus to the right on the issue, obsessed with the notion that this is somehow a new "third rail" of American politics. But third rails kill. And if anyone is about to get burned by anti-immigrant sentiment, it's the GOP…

This is one of those great times that doing the right thing is also the best politics. Rahm's jihad against immigrants isn't based on the numbers. The numbers are clear. If he persists, there can be only one other explanation.”

Other Resources
• For a closer look at 2007 races, visit www.Immigration2007.org
• For a look at polling and public opinion on immigration and legalization, visit the National Immigration Forum’s website at www.immigrationforum.org
• For a look at the Latino electorate and the impact of the immigration debate, see NDN’s report, Hispanics Rising
• For a comprehensive look at the Latino electorate, see NCLR’s report The Latino Electorate: Profile and Trends

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