Despite the fact that Latinos are now the largest minority group in America, GOP presidential candidates don’t appear to be focusing any effort in gaining their support.
Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry all claim that they strongly oppose granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants already residing in the United States, even though a majority of Americans support a “path to citizenship” and an increasing number support granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants (Pew Research Poll).
However, some of the candidates are being criticized for their more liberal immigration views. For example, Rick Perry signed a bill into law that granted in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants which Mitt Romney equates with granting “amnesty.” Newt Gingrich, also, stated his support for establishing a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for a long period of time and have established family ties which has prompted criticism from his competitors, especially Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Both have since taken more conservative views with regard to immigration.
Furthermore, most of the candidate’s plans for immigration reform policy center around “securing the borders” before establishing any specific plans about the status of undocumented immigrants or enforcement policies. The vague nature of the candidates positions creates problems among all voters as to what their policies may be, if elected.
The Hispanic vote will be a vital constituency in the upcoming election. Due to president Obama’s heavy emphasis on border security and increased deportations, if Republicans took more moderate positions on immigration, they could garner the support of Latinos and independents, but not with the policies they are promoting now. In addition, some Republican presidential candidates support even more conservative stances on specific immigration policies. For example, Newt Gingrich supports a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Michele Bachmann supports the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Latinos and Independents will be two key constituencies that may be dissuaded by these very conservative immigration stances and will be the difference between the winning and losing parties in 2012.
The need for the DREAM Act to open more doors for undocumented youth reached a new level. 18-year-old Joaquin Luna, an aspiring Engineer, committed suicide in Texas because, as an undocumented citizen, he felt he was trapped in a society which did not want him to advance and be happy. Returning to his country of origin was a problem as he has lived in the United States. Obtaining a job is a problem because he does not have legal residency. Going to college wasn’t an option because of the lack of scholarship money and the applications. Out of resources, this youth took his life. This illustrates that people are literally dying over the American dream. Most Americans would think that fighting for your rights is over because we prosper in a country with a fair (for the most part…) government which protects our rights (most of the time). The fight for the American dream isn’t over yet. In fact, there are people fighting and dying still within our borders. It is the nationality of those people which has blinded Americans in believe that their strife is different from American citizens’. Rest in Peace Joauin.
There has been a recent news story about an 18 year old high schooler in Mission, Texas who killed himself because of his status as an illegal alien. He reportedly ended his life because of his overwhelming fear that he would not be able to go to college (because he has no social security number and cannot, therefore, apply for loans) and never be able to support his family because of it. He wanted to be an engineer and he worked hard throughout his years in high school only to make it to his senior year and realize that this is where his dreams ended. Any hope he had was dashed when the Dream Act failed in Texas by 5 votes (1).
Don’t get me wrong, I am on the con side. I see the problems with the law. The supporters may not call the Dream Act amnesty, but it sure looks that way to everyone else. And there are American born children who need that money more than they do…but at the end of the day, we are all human. The same blood flows through all of us and when people, children especially, begin to feel so discouraged that they kill themselves, that they see no other way out than to take their own life, we should start thinking about humanity in general, and less about nationality.
America is the land of dreams, a lot of people have seen their every hope and desire come true here. A lot of those same people took advantage of the system and exploited the country as best they could. We give these opportunities to greedy (narcissistic) people like this, so why not extend a helping hand to people who truly deserve it, and would use it well?
A new survey by the Los Angeles Times indicates that the there is a serious ethnic divide between those who support and do not support the DREAM Act. Overwhelmingly, 79% of Latinos support this bill while only 30% of whites support this bill. The study claims that this divide is found because of the cost of attending in state universities. Almost half of those surveyed stated that the cost of in-state universities is almost unaffordable. Because of this, tax and bill payers feel that those who are not citizens should not take away the financial aid from those who are citizens. According to this survey, it almost appears that the ethical argument of offering illegal immigrants access to universities has disappeared, and the debate has turned into one regarding scarce and expensive resources, namely education.
On Election day 2011, President of the Arizona State Senate, Russell Pearce, was officially recalled and replaced by a fellow Republican, Jerry Lewis.
Russell is most known for his sponsorship of Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law, which, according to the Arizona State Legislature, “requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws and gives county attorneys subpoena power in certain investigations of employers. Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or soliciting work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens, and their respective penalties.”
Arizona’s law has inspired similar legislation across the country, most notably in Alabama, which passed a law in September that has been deemed the strictist law in the nation.
It will be interesting to see what the reprecussions of Pearce’s recall are in Arizona with some of his fellow supporters in Arizona up for reelection in 2012 and if his recall will have reprecussions nationally.
Pearce will be replaced by Jerry Lewis, “a charter school executive who is fluent in Spanish, said he would be more amenable to compromise, on immigration and everything else, than the man he is replacing.” His views on SB1070 and Russell Pearce are:
It is also worth noting that Jerry Lewis is a member of Mesa’s influential Mormon Church. I wonder what effect this will have on the debate over whether the United States can elect a Mormon president, like Mitt Romney.
As we talked about previously, the Dream Act was passed here in California not too long ago. Since then, angry citizens have been putting together a petition to put the overturning of the law on the ballot in the upcoming 2012 elections. There are many supporters of this law being overturned: the petition only recently came out but there are almost 10,000 volunteers enthusiastic about it already. The petition has until January 6 to get 700,000 signatures so that it can go onto the ballot. This shouldn’t however be too much of a problem since there many angry parents and students who think that it is unfair for undocumented students to qualify for financial aid, while they, for whatever reason, do not.
The petition would put the law on the ballot and also halt its implementation until we vote on it in the elections.
Students at the University of North Texas who celebrated the Day of the Dead this week added a twist to the celebration. In addition to an alter honoring those that have passed, the students also added an alter in honor of those undocumented students fighting for the American Dream but unable to obtain it because of the nonexistent Dream Act in most states. The students say they lit candles and placed crosses on the alter in honor of those students unable to attend college to better themselves and also for those students who died crossing the border. They call the immigrants who fit in these catagories “Dreamers”. This is appropriate considering that they just wish to follow the American Dream that immigrants in America have strove for for centuries. (Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/04/dream-act-day-of-the-dead_n_1076490.html)
Alabama’s new immigration law has garnered recent criticism from one of young America’s most popular news sources, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
Alabama’s new immigration law, put into place on September 28, 2011, is considered to be “the strictest in the nation.” Alabama’s new “law requires police to check the immigration status of suspects and turn illegal immigrants over to federal authorities. It requires school officials to demand birth certificates from students enrolling for the first time, though the schools may not turn students away. It forbids illegal immigrants to engage in business transactions with state government” (LA Times-10/8/2011)
As Stephen Colbert learned last year, migrant labor is hard work. He worked as migrant worker for 1 day and testified before Congress on a hearing about passing a bill that would provide services to farmworkers. Commenting on Alabama’s law, Colbert harps about being afraid that he might not be able to eat his BLTs in the future because there will be no farmworkers to pick the tomatoes.
Tomato farmers in Alabama employ thousands of illegal immigrants to pick their crops, but with the passage of the new law, their crops are rotting waiting to be picked. Proponents of the law might say that this measure could help lower the unemployment numbers in Alabama. But as the tomato farmers attest to in the video and in the articles, nobody wants to do the work. Farmers have tried hiring locals but there aren’t nearly as many workers “ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. According to one local business owner, “Some of them work out a little bit. Some might work three hours and they quit.” To quell the consequences of the new law, some business owners have resorted to using prison inmates to do their fieldwork, but that’s not going very well for them either.
Hopefully, the rest of the states and the federal government learn from the consequences of Alabama’s before enacting their own immigration reform policies. Stephen Colbert sums up America’s hypocrisy best: “to preserve our precious BLTs, we must do whatever it takes, other than offer these people any rights.”
This is an interesting article about Rick Perry and his stance on immigration.
He has been criticized by fellow Republican candidates for implementing a law in 2001 that allowed undocumented immigrants to enroll in public Texas universities and receive in-state tuition if they met certain requirements (similar to those of the federal DREAM Act).
He continues to support his decision which may resonate well with Hispanic voters, however he says he won’t support a federal DREAM Act and claims that America must secure its borders before we tackle the immigration issue.
The Hispanic vote is going to be a key constituency in the upcoming election and I think it would be to Rick Perry’s benefit to embrace his 2001 law, for that would garner him support in the Hispanic community and among Independents.