Obama reaches out to Latina Lista

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Seeing Clinton's persistent lead in the polls among Latin@ voters, and drawing criticism from some initially sympathetic sources for lackluster outreach efforts, the Obama campaign decided last week after Super Tuesday to guest blog on Marisa TreviƱo's site, Latina Lista.  The takeaway line for me is in the second paragraph below:

I also know that for women of all backgrounds, keeping their families together is a top priority. It is no secret that Latino families are being separated from their families every day in this country because of raids and deportation policies that do not take family and humanity into account when trying to enforce laws.
 

That's why when I'm President, I will put comprehensive immigration reform back on the nation's agenda during my first year in office, and I will not rest until it is passed once and for all.

I will take that as a campaign promise to work during his first year to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and I hope migrants and migrant advocates hold him to it. 

The candidate also expressed support for permitting undocumented students access to in-state tuition rates and reaffirmed his support for the long-overdue DREAM Act.

[U]nder current law students who do excel in and out of school that were brought here as undocumented immigrant children have no hope of attending college with affordable in-state tuition.

We need to close the achievement gap between Latino and other students, reduce the high school dropout rate, and finally enact the DREAM Act so that every child can have the chance to attend college.

He dropped an important name in the fight to pass CIR:

I have also worked closely with Congressman Luis Gutierrez here in Illinois and consider him an amazing leader in the struggle to pass immigration reform and ensure that immigration application fees are reasonable and fair.

The issue of application fees is an oft-overlooked, but important one.  The drastic rise in green card and naturalization application fees last July has deterred many immigrants from pursuing available channels to lawful status, since government fees alone for a spousal petition and green card application add up to nearly $1400, not including legal fees.  The fee increase has also bogged down naturalization processing to the point where many citizens-in-waiting who filed their applications last summer may not be able to vote in this fall's election. 

But let's hear what Rep. Gutierrez himself had to say about Obama's outreach efforts so far to Latin@s:

"Clinton has been working this community for a long time," said Suro, now a journalism professor at the University of Southern California. "She had a big aggressive campaign backed by a good ground game. Obama was late."

That's a point that has been particularly vexing to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Chicago Democrat who has been serving as one of Obama's campaign point men to the Hispanic community.

Obama's campaign has been culturally nearsighted when it comes to Hispanic voters, Gutierrez lamented, failing to reach out to Spanish language media which is a prime source of information for middle-aged and older Latinos.

"Can you blame a community of people that have not been actively courted for not responding to his campaign?" Gutierrez asked.

Obama's recent move towards a more pro-migrant stance seems to be motivated by a desire to overcome his lag in the polls among Latin@ voters.  I think he is the best choice for migrants and their supporters.  But it is fair to ask for details: What can we expect on January 20, 2009 if Obama takes office? 


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1 Comments

kyledeb said:

Obama's lackluster numbers with the U.S. Latino population have inspired all sorts of speculation. I imagine we've all read the articles about the black/latino divide and worse.

The truth is Obama has been doing a lousy job at Latino outreach. That doesn't mean the Latino vote is anti-Obama. It's more pro-Clinton. Clinton just had the machinery in place to secure the Latino vote, and the same can be said for the votes of other minority groups, like Asian Americans.

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