While courting Latinos, Obama and Romney play us for fools
There’s something particularly galling about being wooed and insulted at the same time.
Ever since Time Magazine announced in its cover story that Latinos would decide who the next president will be, politicians have been circling around us as if we’re the prettiest girl at the dance.
Problem is, they also think we’re the dumbest.
A quick case in point: As the Obama campaign started to set up its offices in various Philadelphia neighborhoods, two of the coordinators called us at Al Día to come in and meet the editorial team. When they showed up they were bright, charming and personable. They brought with them printouts about Obama’s positions on health care, education and jobs.
And nothing about immigration.
“You came to a Latino newspaper without anything, not one single sheet about immigration?” we asked, a bit incredulous.
“And you think we weren’t going to notice?”
Sure, they were junior folk, inexperienced and unprepared. But the senior folk in the Obama administration don’t like reminders of Obama’s abysmal record on immigration — one of the top issues for Latinos across the nation — either.
When we hosted Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís for an Al Día roundtable, she was terrific: genuine, articulate, warm and forthcoming. Until one of the reporters asked her whether President Obama’s legacy in terms of Latinos would be his record-setting deportation numbers. Solís responded, but not before an expression of surprise, and then aggravation, crossed her face.
It was a fair question. The president has deported more than 1.2 million people, and his tally for one term in office looks good to surpass what George W. Bush totalled in two.
If it isn’t that the politicians think we’re a dumb electorate, it must be that they think we’ve been struck by some sort of political short-term memory loss.
But, we remember:
• Obama promises to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority during his second term. He promised to make it a priority during his first term, too. Forgive us for not holding our breath this time.
• The Secure Communities program has expanded from 14 jurisdictions when Obama took office to more than 1,200 under his administration.
• From January to June of last year, Obama deported approximately 46,000 parents of U.S.-citizen children, which represents more than 22 percent of the total deported in that period. According to reports, under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton the percentage of parents of U.S.-citizen children deported didn’t surpass 8 percent of the total deportations.
Mitt Romney is equally disingenuous in his sudden attraction to the Latino voter.
• Though Romney avers these days that the author of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Kris Kobach, is simply a “supporter” of his campaign, he was once listed as Romney’s principal immigration advisor.
• Even though he’s gone quiet about it, Romney favors “self-deportation” with the aim to drive 5.5 million undocumented immigrants from the country by 2016.
• He’s pledged to veto the DREAM Act. Except maybe Fla. Senator Marco Rubio’s version. But only because he’s a GOP pal, you understand.
• There’s a clunky boorishness about the way Rubio has been deployed to appear with Romney all of a sudden, and, no, we aren’t fooled. Romney is courting us, but is petrified to meet our eyes and talk with us.
So, word of advice to Obama and Romney from the pretty-girl-Latino-electorate you’ve been hoping will dance with you: Stop thinking we don’t notice. Bust a move we can admire, one that neither dissembles nor disrespects. Look us in the eye and stop hiring our haters. Keep your word.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll think about giving you a whirl.