Latino voters will probably help reelect President Obama, but what will they get in return?
By Adrian Perez, Associate Editor, Journal On Latino Americans
Yes. It is true. The majority of Latino voters who will participate in this year’s Presidential election will vote for President Barack Obama. Most will not vote for him because he has been good for Latinos, they will be voting for him because the Republicans have almost totally alienated Latino voters.
Like many other Latinos, I supported Obama’s election in 2008, not because he would have been the first President of color, but because his speeches told us there was a much brighter light if we elected him to lead the free world. As an independent voter, I studied his and Senator John McCain’s messages to see which would better serve the Latino community and hands down, Obama was a cut above. So what happened?
President Barack Obama has been a disappointment for Latinos in his policies and broken promises that once stirred support and a drive for change in the 2008 Presidential election. The country has never been more divided with partisan politics playing a key role in how Latinos, documented or undocumented, are perceived. Had the President stuck to his promises and demonstrated true leadership by standing up to racist attitudes toward Latinos and address the undocumented worker issue in a more prompt and humane level, support for his reelection would have remained or exceeded what he experienced in 2008.
I was present at the 2008 National Council of La Raza annual convention in San Diego, California, where Obama promised that immigration reform would be a priority in his first year as President. Instead, his immigration policies of the last 4 years have resulted in the largest number of undocumented Latino deportations occurring, many without due process, which split thousands of families.
Some have argued that it hasn’t been the President’s fault. Really? The Department of Homeland Security is under his rule and he appointed former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to establish and implement the most cruel and inhumane approaches of deportation, where in many cases children had to be placed in foster homes or left with a single parent to care for them. So why did Obama wait to take action until it was time to run for reelection?
As an olive-branch to the Latino community, Obama offered a policy this year, protecting the millions of undocumented children who were brought here by their parents, an opportunity not to be deported if they self-identified themselves as undocumented. The problem with that policy is the Department of Homeland Security will know where these children are and if the policy is not extended, they will be deported.
Governor Mitt Romney is no saint either, making it clear he would deport all undocumented residents, including children, unless they entered the military. Unfortunately, they are not his policies as much as they are the Republican Party’s policies.
Unless real Latino leadership in the U.S. stands up to the winner of this year’s Presidential winner, we can expect more of the same.